Friday, December 3, 2010

Mayor: City won’t act on grocery revision

Deferred application will be discussed Monday


By TREVON MILLIARD
Express Staff Writer

At its Monday, Dec. 6, meeting, the Ketchum City Council will continue discussions on a proposed zoning amendment to allow grocery stores in the city's largest light-industrial area, despite developer Vern Howard's decision Tuesday to formally withdraw his application for the change.

However, Mayor Randy Hall asserted that there would be no action taken on the proposed amendment, even though it remains an agenda item for the council's 5:30 p.m. meeting.

"I can assure you there will be no second reading," Hall said, adding that it was kept on the agenda for the council to officially table the item and express its opinions on the matter.

The council completed its first reading of the amendment on Nov. 15, following abundant and often passionate public testimony on both sides of the argument. Passage of the first reading means the city will continue considering the change during two more readings.

Lisa Horowitz, Ketchum's director of Community and Economic Development, said that even though the city has halted consideration of the zoning change at Howard's request, it doesn't mean it could never happen. She said the council could resume consideration at any time.

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Howard couldn't be reached by the paper's deadline Thursday, but his attorney, Jim Laski, stated in a letter to the city that Howard hasn't given up on the zoning change, which would give him a chance to build his proposed Ketchum Market at the former Stock Building Supply site on Warm Springs Road. Laski said he's merely waiting, holding off until the city rewrites the Economic Development chapter of its comprehensive plan, which may delve into the city's goal for developing the light-industrial area.

Writing the chapter includes consideration of whether the city wants to revert to traditional LI uses or continue to allow uses such as coin-operated laundries, child daycare and exercise studios. Some argue that allowing a grocery store would be the beginning of pushing out industrial enterprises.

The Economic Development chapter won't be rewritten for about five months.

Laski stated that Howard feels the rewritten plan could assist the city's leaders in coming to the "same conclusion" that he has reached—that the Stock Building Supply site is "excellent" for a grocery store and that allowing grocery stores in the LI would be of "great value" to the city.

Half the four-member council wasn't convinced of that at its Nov. 15 meeting. Hall broke the 2-2 split on the first reading by casting a vote in favor of the zoning change.

Trevon Milliard: tmilliard@mtexpress.com




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