Friday, May 30, 2008

P&Z denies proposed community housing

Express Staff Writer

Citing an inappropriate hillside location, the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission has denied a three-lot subdivision that would have added to the city's short supply of affordable housing.

On Wednesday, May 28, the P&Z voted unanimously, with one abstention, to deny an application by Trina and Jake Peters to subdivide property in the Kinderhorn subdivision, just east of downtown.

The plan called for the couple to keep one lot for their single-family home and to develop a second single-family home on the second lot. The third lot, located on the hillside overlooking the city of Sun Valley's Festival Meadows parcel, was designated for 3,700 square feet of deed-restricted housing. The land, priced at a market value of about $1 million, was to be donated to the ARCH Community Housing Trust.

While expressing support for affordable housing, the commissioners declined to waive an ordinance that generally prohibits development on a hillside with a slope of 25 percent or more.

The commissioners also took issue with the site's location in the Mountain Overlay District. Developments on hillsides that are important to the community's aesthetic values require more stringent review by the P&Z to weigh the benefits of development against the costs.

The commission's ruling was in line with the majority of public comments at the meeting. Though most residents voiced agreement with the need for community housing, they did not want it near Kinderhorn.

"This is just the wrong site," said Sun Valley Community Development Director Mark Hofman.

Hofman compared the development to building community housing on Bald Mountain.

The Peterses, who have been working on the project for four years, disagreed.

"We were disappointed in the ruling," Jake Peters said. "The city of Ketchum needs ways to attract and retain people in jobs such as police, fire and education that otherwise can't afford to live here without crazy commutes. The proposal we made seemed like a sensible hybrid that complied, to a very great extent, with the rules. It's painful to be excoriated for trying to do something that holistically seems like something that could make the city better."

Peters said he and his wife have not decided whether to appeal the P&Z's decision to the Ketchum City Council.

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