Jill Brennan lives in Ketchum.
By JILL BRENNAN
The Wood River Economic Partnership and the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau have come out in support of the proposed hotel developments, citing their excitement over the hotels bringing a needed economic boost to Ketchum. I would love to jump on this bandwagon and also believe that these projects will turn things around in our resort economy.
Unfortunately, approving the hotel projects involves so much more than just the economic issue. To believe that Warm Springs Ranch Resort (WSRR) is going to bring vitality to our economy and be the answer to a handful of dilemmas without considering all the parameters of the project is just irresponsible. WSRR may bring some improvement to our economy, but what they are asking of us in return for this promise is not responsible development for this site. The reality is that the majority of the WSRR project is a single-family, fractional ownership and condominium development, and the developers have potentially millions of dollars of profit at stake.
The city staff of Ketchum has just come out with their staff report regarding the WSRR development. The report outlines the "waivers" from the city zoning code requested by the developers. The developers have justified the many "waivers" needed by promising economic growth and stability. They also promise these "waivers" will maintain harmony with the surrounding neighborhood. I disagree and I feel that granting these "waivers" is a blatant disregard for the comprehensive plan of our city.
For a factual look at this massive project, go to the end of the staff report and take a look at the Massing Analysis. This is a visual, unbiased visit through the project and it presents the impact of the project on our environment, on our neighborhoods and on our community. The hotel is 93 feet tall and a massive 500,000-square-foot structure, several times the size of the YMCA.
Understand that the city is under no legal obligation to grant these waivers. Our comprehensive plan, which is the document used to guide our city government, states that we want to protect our unique and small-town character. This is what makes the community valuable to those who both live and visit here. The city government is being pressured by the developers to disregard the spirit of our comprehensive plan.
I would encourage everyone who cares at all about the future vision of our town to take five minutes out of their day and look at the staff report. The sizes of the structures are analyzed from all angles and directions. They show comparatives to existing buildings, people and cars.
Go online today and take an eye-opening look at the Massing Analysis. It could be the most important five minutes you will spend this spring. The report is buried deep, so follow these prods: www.ketchumidaho.org/City Departments/Community & Economic Development/Hotels & Special Projects/Warm Springs Ranch Resort/City Staff Report, May 27, 2008/Attachment 8 -- Winter and Company Massing Analysis 5-23-08.
Come to the P&Z meetings on this project. If the process works properly, you can make a difference. For details on the meetings, see the published Public Notices.