Members of the Ketchum City Council came out swinging Monday night in response to newspaper coverage last week that scolded the city's volunteer planning board for reworking a year's worth of downtown planning efforts during the course of a six-hour meeting.
"These guys have dedicated the last six months of their lives. They met 12 times in August," said Mayor Randy Hall. "These guys have been suiting up and showing up."
The Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission's Monday, Oct. 9, recommendation to the City Council was based on a draft downtown Ketchum regulatory code drawn up by the city's Planning Department with the help of two planning consultants, the Tom Hudson Co. and Urban Design Studios.
"We're trying to pull the code out of that," said P&Z Chairman Jack Rutherford, "And it has gone through a lot of rewrites. It is going through a lot of rewrites. And it will go through more rewrites. That's how you create a code."
The draft code departs from traditional zoning in favor of "form-based" zoning, which promotes mixed uses and focuses more on desired designs rather than on density caps.
The P&Z "mangled" the plan, "dismissed" a year's work and "ignored" public comments, opined the Mountain Express.
The City Council wouldn't have it.
"It was really hard to read the editorial (in the Mountain Express)," said Hall. "I just thought it was a little over-the-top. I think they deserve to be applauded, not to be castigated."
Each City Council member, except Councilman Baird Gourlay, who was absent, took a turn at defending the P&Z's work and the entire process leading up to that stage in the plan.
"This has not been done in a vacuum," said Councilman Ron Parsons. "When we do make a decision, we're not just going to sky-hook something. We've put a lot of time into this.
On Monday, Oct. 16, the City Council reviewed parts of the plan pertaining to parking, riparian areas, hillside protection and tourist zones. The most significant review focused on recommendations the P&Z made regarding proposed parking requirements.
The City Council will continue to consider the form-based code at a public hearing on Monday, Oct. 23, at 5 p.m.