Wednesday, May 25, 2011

County, Sun Valley not seeing eye to eye

Views differ over city’s area of impact


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley has a different idea about what the city's area of impact should look like than does Blaine County's Planning & Zoning Commission. How to reconcile those perspectives was the subject of discussion during a City Council meeting May 19.

In spring 2010, the city began reviewing its area of impact, as it is required by state law to do every 10 years. The Sun Valley P&Z made recommendations for changes in the area of impact to the City Council. The recommendations were then sent to Blaine County, whose Planning & Zoning Commission drafted its own recommendations.

"They generally overlap but have some differences." Sun Valley Mayor Wayne Willich said.

One of those differences pertains to which areas should be included. The city P&Z recommended that those areas should be BLM lands, the Parker Gulch area, McHanville east, Highway 75 inholdings, the Trail Creek section and Juniper terminus.

The county P&Z recommended for Sun Valley's area of impact Highway 75 inholdings, the Trail Creek section and Juniper terminus, and that McHanville east be kept part of the discussion.

The county also added the West Utility corridor—the triangle-shaped property owned by the Sun Valley Water & Sewer District near Highway 75 and Elkhorn Road—as an area for possible discussion between Sun Valley and Ketchum. Sun Valley did not include that within its proposals because it is in Ketchum's area of city impact, and Sun Valley does not want any overlap.

Willich emphasized that the city's motive to expand its area of impact is not that city officials are eyeing annexation.

"It's not a land grab as has been characterized," Willich said. "We are concerned about a buffer from potential uses next to us. We're sensitive to our boundaries here, being surrounded by federal lands."

He said areas of impact give city officials more opportunity to be heard during meetings.

"We want that next level of formality," he said.

The City Council is set to hold a discussion on the area-of-impact recommendations at its June 16 meeting.

Meanwhile, the county P&Z is formalizing its recommendations before sending them up to county commissioners.

If the commissioners are able to reconcile the different perspectives, the city and county can move forward on crafting compatible ordinances.

"If they have a really clever solution, it'll be like a group hug," Willich said.

If issues are not resolved at the City Council and county commissioner level, state statute calls for a nine-member committee to be formed. That committee would be made up of the three county commissioners, three representatives from Sun Valley and three members of the public.

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




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