Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Water issues surface in Gun Club analysis

Express Staff Writer

Fire and water are the key elements of two items under consideration by the Sun Valley Planning and Zoning Commission.

At a P&Z meeting last Friday, water bubbled up as a major issue in Sun Valley Co.'s plans for a major planned-unit development on the former site of the Sun Valley Gun Club, along Trail Creek Road. Some 350 acres is involved in the resort's project, which includes a 9-hole golf course, 30 single-family residential home sites and some 250 condominiums. The commission will await a revamped PUD application that addresses water and other environmental issues.

In separate business, the commission recommended a wildland fire building code for City Council review.

There are "a variety of issues—water, slopes, transit, roads," said P&Z Chair Joan Lamb, discussing the resort's PUD application. "The water needs the most clarification."

Lamb said resort representatives plan to return to the P&Z on Nov. 30 with a PUD application that will supersede the application currently under review. The amended proposal is expected to address proposed lots where more than half the lot has a slope of 15 percent or greater in proposed building envelopes. It is not clear if water issues will be resolved by then.

"To provide pressure, we have to have a tank up there," said Pat McMahon, Sun Valley Water and Sewer District general manager. "And, whatever the needs of the subdivision are, they have to meet with our master plan. There are three basic needs for water—potable, fire protection, and last but not least, irrigation needs."

McMahon said he is talking with Sun Valley Co. General Manager Wally Huffman to establish plans for a water system that can be approved on the property. Part of the delay for Sun Valley Co. is the fact that the new system must also conform to Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and Idaho Department of Water Resources regulations. The government requires that with major changes to the water and sewer district's system, a master plan must be submitted, McMahon said.

Also at issue is a debate over water rights for water that is pumped from five wells in Trail Creek, including one that is under construction. Water that would serve private property owners in the new development belongs to Sun Valley Co. by right, McMahon said, explaining that negotiations are on-going with Huffman about how future property owners in the development could use some of the resort's water rights.

The wildland fire building code ordinance has been a work in progress since the Trail Creek Fire last summer. The ordinance includes rules about landscaping and roofing that follow federal "Firewise" guidelines for property management for development on the edge of areas that are threatened by wildfire, which includes the Gun Club property. A date for its consideration by the council has not yet been set.

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