Wednesday, October 17, 2007

City tweaks Warm Springs plan


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

As part of its ongoing master planning effort in Warm Springs Village, the Ketchum City Council on Monday decided to move forward with expanding the boundaries of the city's Pedestrian Access Overlay District, which is defining the area for the Warm Springs master planning process.

The council did not make a formal vote, but consensus was clear.

The Pedestrian Access Overlay District is a 10.2-acre area that was designated in 1989 to ensure that parking and vehicles did not dominate the "vibrancy and pedestrian nature" of the base area. Under the proposal considered Monday the area would be expanded to 14.27 acres.

The City Council last spring voted to amend the district, requiring that new commercial buildings in the village be built with retail or hotel amenities on their ground floors. The district boundaries are serving as a rough guideline for an ongoing Warm Springs revitalization master planning process.

"It looks like the Pedestrian Access Overlay District boundaries don't serve the goal of revitalizing Warm Springs," said Ketchum Planning Director Harold Moniz. "If we're going to entertain different densities, we ought to include all the residential properties" within a certain area of the village.

Councilman Ron Parson said the proposal made sense.

"I think we need to move forward," he said. "The more information and the more we get our ducks in line the fewer problems we're going to have down the road. We've spent the money, and we've committed to this."

The city kicked off the master planning process at a Feb. 28 meeting at Warm Springs lodge last winter.

Ketchum attorney and developer Brian Barsotti is a significant property owner in Warm Springs. He owns the Baldy Base Camp building and the commercial building containing Apple's Bar & Grill.

Barsotti is contemplating construction of a hotel at the site of Baldy Base Camp, and that is one of the key planning components to the city's master planning process. Barsotti did not object to the expanded pedestrian overlay boundaries.

The overall plan at Warm Springs involves rezoning the area to allow for higher densities and building heights to make the economics work.

"This is a world-class resort, isn't it?" Moniz asked. "I'd defy anybody to walk down there and say this is a world-class experience at this point in time. If we leave the existing zoning you will get what you've gotten in the past, and that is a residential dead zone. The only other choice is to change the zoning to something you think is needed and necessary."

There are two more public meetings slated prior to the commencement of a public hearing process on the plan at the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission level. The next meeting will be Monday, Oct. 29, and will include a review of guiding principals and transportation issues.

A mid-November meeting will include an overview of key concepts for zoning changes, discussion of parking and circulation requirements.

A public hearing on the final plan is slated for Nov. 26 before the P&Z.




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