Friday, May 9, 2008

It's crunch time for Ketchum

Planning staff to work overtime on Warm Springs Ranch

Express Staff Writer

Graphics courtesy DDRM Greatplace As designed, the height of the proposed Warm Springs Ranch Resort hotel sits at 93 feet, a major concern for both the public and Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission. However, a revision of the project is scheduled to arrive before the city on Monday, May 12, and could mean a scaled-down top floor.

The Ketchum planning staff's packed summer schedule just got busier, as a delay from the developers of the proposed Warm Springs Ranch Resort will necessitate a quick turnaround to prepare for scheduled public hearings in June.

DDRM Greatplace, developer of the resort, was originally scheduled to submit information materials on April 29 determined from a Planning and Zoning Commission workshop on April 1 at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood. At that meeting, around 150 area residents were on hand, along with the commission, to ask the development team about major issues of concern for the large-scale project, including height, traffic and economic impact.

However, that deadline was pushed back to May 5 to accommodate a second workshop, partially the result of recommendations from the public, on April 24 to specifically look at design and massing alternatives.

In its ninth and most recent incarnation, the resort would feature a five-star 75-room hotel, 45 condominiums for rent, a nine-hole golf course and 90 residences made up of townhomes, villas and estate lots. There would also be meeting space, 3,400-square-foot events house, spa, bar and two restaurants, including a reincarnation of the Warm Springs Restaurant.

The last large change came at the end of April when the a block of workforce housing, which would accommodate about half the project's employees, was relocated from just west of the hotel, adjacent to Warm Springs Road, to the eastern side of the project near Townhouse Lane.

The city agreed to the May 5 deadline, as it was determined that the developer should have extra time to look at issues raised at the second public workshop. However, the resulting new design is not expected at City Hall until Monday, May 12, a full week past the second deadline. Ketchum Economic and Community Development Director Lisa Horowitz said on Tuesday that the delay was caused by a death in the family of DDRM Greatplace owner Stan Castleton.

"I don't think it's ideal, but we had to factor in that they were responding to the last workshop," Horowitz said. "This way we get a new (package of information) rather than the same one."

Horowitz said the city could have pushed the public hearings, scheduled for June 10, 11 and 12, and final commission decision on June 19 back to September, but thought that would be unfair to residents who worked the original itinerary into their schedules. However, that decision gives the planning staff a mere two weeks to prepare its report for consideration by the public and commission prior to the meetings.

"We made a commitment that the report would be done 15 days before the public hearings," Horowitz said of the reason for the time pressure. "We don't want to reneg on that commitment."

Horowitz said the developer would provide some of the materials today, Friday, May 9, and renderings of the most recent design, titled Scheme 10, the following Monday.

"If they've lowered the height of the hotel it would be a responsive move on their part because of comment from the P&Z and public," Horowitz said. "I'll be really curious to see what they come to us with on Monday."

At the April 24 workshop, the commission members asked if there was any way to bring down the hotel's roof height, which is 93 feet at its maximum, around 60 feet above Warm Springs Road.

Horowitz said other pertinent information that's been requested includes economic impact analysis of similar projects in other resort communities, a transportation study showing transit stops and circulation, and safety issues concerning neighboring Bald Mountain Road.

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