Friday, March 12, 2010

City nears decision on River Run

Public comment to be taken at March 30 meeting

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley Resort has submitted this design as part of its plans for the 19-acre core of its 138-acre base village at River Run. The core would consist of a 110-foot-tall hotel, parking garages, a restaurant and retail. Courtesy graphic

A determination about the fate of Sun Valley Resort's proposed 138-acre base village at River Run is near, with the first City Council decision possibly coming on April 22. That's a relatively short time, considering resort officials started talking about developing the base area near Ketchum in 2004 and filed formal plans to the city in August 2009.

The Ketchum City Council met Tuesday to absorb the final details of the vast project, hearing about the planned-unit development, or PUD. This is the 19-acre hotel core within the housing development, where—on the east bank of Big Wood River—the 110-foot-tall hotel, parking garages, a restaurant and retail would be located.

For the much-anticipated base village to happen, Ketchum would need to approve extending city limits around the resort-owned property. The land is currently part of the county, which typically wouldn't allow such a development. The City Council also would need to approve the PUD.

From now until April 22, the council will deliberate over the controversial details, which need to be settled before approvals can be considered. Hot topics include a possible park on the site, community-housing requirements and setbacks along the Big Wood River. Concerning these topics, area residents and Sun Valley Resort representatives have disagreed over what the city should demand of the developer for allowing the annexation.

For example, members of the soccer and paragliding community—as well as the Ketchum Parks and Recreation Department—have asked for a minimum three-acre park somewhere within the 138-acre site. Sun Valley Co. development consultant Becky Zimmerman has repeatedly said the company "can't accommodate that here or bear the cost of that anywhere."

The city is able to make such demands, seeing that the land's annexation into the city is a negotiation process, and the city can ask for offsets in allowing more land, infrastructure and streets into the city. The council will be tasked with deciding how far its demands go.

And that will be the next step, beginning at a public hearing planned for March 30. Here, anyone and everyone will have a chance to tell the council their concerns and what they think should be demanded from the resort company. These meetings are usually held at Ketchum City Hall but that may change because of anticipated crowds.

After that meeting, the council will spend April 21 and 22 discussing annexation requirements with Sun Valley Co. and possibly make its final decisions.

None of the buildings are designed yet, but their general footprints are laid out. Sun Valley Resort would have to come back to the city to have buildings' formal designs approved.

Trevon Milliard:

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