Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ketchum still wrangling with 10-unit condo plan

Express Staff Writer

A five-plus hour meeting Thursday, Feb. 15, with the Ketchum City Council wasn't enough time to wade through the massive documents pertaining to a condominium project adjacent to Trail Creek.

Jack Bariteau, representing his interests in Stevenson Ketchum Fund LLC, is seeking approval for a two-building, 10-unit residential project on the corner of Second Street and Walnut Avenue.

Applications for the project include a partial vacation of First Street, a rezone from General Residential-Low Density to General Residential-High Density, and design review elements.

The council discussed parking, the development of city-owned land into a park, access via a footpath to Wood River Land Trust-owned land upstream and fencing and landscaping aspects.

"We're working through it," Council President Baird Gourlay said after the meeting.

Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson submitted a letter last Wednesday to the Ketchum City Council. In it, he offered comments on and suggestions for the project.

"The structural design is aesthetically pleasing and demonstrates architectural quality," he wrote. But he said the rezone should be linked by specific condition to the 10-unit design review application because a higher-density project may not fit in with the surroundings.

"Because of the site's proximity to low-density residential properties in Sun Valley and the sensitive Trail Creek riparian area, a potential 24-unit condominium project would not be appropriate for the area," he wrote.

Thorson also expressed concern about the riparian area and ensuring the preservation and maintenance of the setback.

The Ketchum City Council will continue its discussion on Feb. 22, with the possibility of another meeting after that.

"There are a lot of standards they have to go through," said Planning Director Harold Moniz. "They have to make a finding for each standard—to determine whether or not the project conforms with that."

The major complexity is the street vacation, he added, noting that vacations are always a big issue because they involve giving up public property, or rights of way, to a private interest.

The project has also elicited opposition from adjacent property owners, especially those with interests in the Lodges at Trail Creek, immediately to the east. The size of the project, the potential for increased traffic and the impact on the neighborhood have all been brought up as issues.

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