Friday, May 9, 2008

Working through the basics

Ketchum P&Z looks at outstanding code revisions

Express Staff Writer

Though they may not get the public attention recently bestowed upon hotel applications and major zoning revisions in Warm Springs, a number of areas in the city's Municipal Code appear important enough to warrant revising.

At a special workshop meeting on Tuesday, May 6, the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission spent nearly three hours working through a couple of sections of the zoning code that have proved confusing and time consuming for the city staff when working with both commercial and residential applicants.

Though the staff and City Attorney Ben Worst came up with a list of nearly two dozen areas that could use revision, the commission attempted to tackle only two, demonstrating the complexity of even simple-sounding issues that the public rarely considers.

Looking at the city's parking requirements in the Community Core Zone, the commission decided that the ordinance could place an undue burden on those looking simply to remodel an existing building or build a small addition.

The current ordinance, implemented in 2006, requires anyone seeking to develop in that zone to provide a number of parking spaces determined by the size of the building. If all the parking cannot be met on-site, the developer can make up for the shortfall with an in-lieu payment. However, City Planner Mark Goodman said someone remodeling an existing building could be required to provide parking not previously necessary.

"The intent of the ordinance was not to make someone making a small renovation meet this parking requirement," Goodman said. "However, this is how it could be read right now."

The commission recently took action to avoid such a situation when it approved developer John Sofro's remodel of 311 Sun Valley Road, home of the old Ketchum Post Office, without asking for further parking than was originally required.

While no official action was taken during Tuesday's meeting, commissioners said the ordinance needed to be reworded so that would not happen. In addition, commission members agreed, an in-lieu fee should be set. The commission is supposed to approve such a fee annually.

At the meeting, the commission also took an in-depth look at the definitions and restrictions on retaining walls and fences to clear up confusion surrounding the permitting process for those structures.

In the future, the commission will look at issues such as residential uses in the Light Industrial Zone, inclusionary housing requirements for subdivisions and the planned-unit development process.

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