Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sun Valley eyes changes to comp plan

City planners intend to be ‘cautious’


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Express file photo. The city of Sun Valley and Sun Valley Resort, center-front, are discussing changes to the city’s comprehensive plan and land-use map.

The Sun Valley Planning & Zoning Commission, city staff and representatives from Sun Valley Co. last week kicked off what may be a summer-long process to review text in the city's comprehensive plan update and revisions to the future land-use map.

Two applications are moving along parallel tracks: Sun Valley Co. is requesting revisions to the text of the 2005 comprehensive plan update and the land-use designation of the future land-use map as they apply to Sun Valley Co. land.

The city of Sun Valley's application is for general revisions to the text of the comprehensive plan update.

"The intent is that they mirror each other," said Mark Hofman, Sun Valley community development director, at the May 12 P&Z meeting.

The proposed changes would rezone some Sun Valley Co. land to reflect the master plan that the company submitted to the city in 2004. Much in that plan has not yet been implemented.

"We ran into some administrative hurdles along the way," said Wally Huffman, Sun Valley Co.'s director of resorts and resort development.

The city and Sun Valley Co. did not reach agreement on some items in the 2005 comprehensive plan update.

"This is an effort to once again address those issues and see if we can resolve them ... and put the zoning ordinance into effect," Huffman said.

He said the goal is to codify the vision of Sun Valley Co. owners Earl and Carol Holding.

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The comprehensive plan is reviewed regularly by the P&Z, as called for in the 2005 update. Any approved amendments would "clean up" the comprehensive plan, Hofman said, but wouldn't change overall policy or the overall vision of the comprehensive plan.

Commissioners, city staff and Sun Valley Co. representatives spent Thursday's meeting discussing Sun Valley Co.'s application for nine specific text amendments. The requested text amendments pertain to historic places, land preservation on both sides of Sun Valley Road, proposed gondola alignment, historic commission and preservation regulations, the city's special sites list, Land Use Planning Act development requirements, workforce housing, the vision for Sun Valley's "gateway" and public use of Meadow property.

Preservation of the Meadow property, known as the gateway, generated a discussion about the city's ability—and the public's perception of its ability—to keep it as is.

The meadow stretching along Sun Valley Road is designated Outdoor Recreation (OR-1) not Open Space. OR-1 is like a "holding zone" for density or open space, Hofman said. It allows for recreational uses such as tennis courts and corrals.

The Holdings' vision for the gateway is to preserve it, Huffman said. In exchange for their support for a rezone to Open Space, they would seek increased density through rezoning elsewhere on their property.

Codifying zoning changes now would prevent future caretakers of Sun Valley Co. land from maximizing densities in sensitive areas, such as open spaces, slopes and riparian areas.

"If it's not zoned that (open space), it leaves it open to the possibility for everything to be maximized," Hofman said in an interview.

The P&Z is scheduled to discuss the proposed future land-use map amendments at its May 26 meeting. If commissioners finalize their recommendations on the text amendments and the map revisions, the issues will go before the City Council for extensive review and possible action.

Discussions at the council level could extend through summer and beyond. The goal, Hofman said, is to do it expeditiously but to do it right.

"We want to be cautious," he said. "We don't want to rush it."

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




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