Friday, October 20, 2006

Flyer raises hackles in Sun Valley

Resort battles with city over proposed land-use laws

Express Staff Writer

A flyer distributed by Sun Valley Co. to households throughout Sun Valley this week evoked significant public response at a Sun Valley City Council meeting on Wednesday.

During a work session on Oct. 18, which was scheduled to discuss amendments to the city's comprehensive plan and adoption of a unified development code, the public's attention turned to proposed residential mass and scale ordinances that will be considered next week.

The concerns came in light of 3,000 anonymous flyers distributed Monday and Tuesday, Oct 16 and 17, to property owners in Sun Valley. The company also took out a full-page advertisement in the Wednesday, Oct. 18, edition of the Idaho Mountain Express.

"Obviously, I was wrong for going onto people's property and handing out fliers. We are in the process of picking them up," said Sun Valley Co. General Manager Wally Huffman.

Under the city's Handbill Ordinance, distributing such flyers on private property is illegal, except if such notices are directly distributed to a person.

"If we find someone handing out handbills, our initial approach is to educate them. If they refuse, we take action," said Sun Valley Police Department Sgt. Kim Orchard.

He said Sun Valley Co. complied with the Police Department's requests to stop distribution and to pick up the flyers. No citations were issued.

The statement on the flyer and in the advertisement reads: "Your property value and rights will be taken by the city of Sun Valley this month." Specifically, the document opposes a residential mass and scale ordinance and a workforce housing linkage fee ordinance that the city will consider next week.

"My reading of the bits and pieces that I have seen is that my house and a number of houses in Lane Ranch, under the new proposals, could not be built," said Sun Valley resident Graham Anderson.

Under the proposed residential mass and scale guidelines, residential square footage would be determined by a floor area ratio. The ordinance also proposes a maximum 12,000-square-foot building size and restricts height 30 feet. Contrary to Sun Valley Co. assertions, building envelope regulations would not change.

"The general intent is to match the size of a house to the size of a lot," said Mark Hofman, the city's community development director.

The mass and scale ordinance is one of 13 pending land-use regulation changes on the table this month in Sun Valley. The council agreed in July to bring its land-use regulations in line with the 2005 comprehensive plan update, the city's guiding land-use document, in response to the Proposition 2 private property rights initiative and as directed by the comprehensive plan.

"All 13 of these actions limit the development rights of (Sun Valley Co. owner) Mr. (Earl) Holding and limit the development rights of you," Huffman said to those in attendance. "There is not one sentence in any one of these that gives something to Mr. Holding, not one. They are all restrictive covenants."

Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson responded.

"There is nothing that Mr. Holding can't do, that he said he wants to do," Thorson said. "I am clear regulations are for the good of the order and the good of the whole. In the long run, we will have a community that you all said you wanted. That is articulated in the comp plan."

Councilman Nils Ribi suggested taking five proposed ordinances specific to Sun Valley Co. off the table.

The council reconvened on Thursday, after press deadlines, to take action on amending the city's comprehensive plan and adopting a unified development code.

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