Friday, July 1, 2011

P&Z finds agreement on comp plan

Plan would allow more density on Prospector Hill

Express Staff Writer

Recommendations agreed upon by the Sun Valley Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday, if followed by the City Council, will allow a greater density of development across from Dollar Mountain than is envisioned in the current comprehensive plan—though not as much as Sun Valley Co. originally requested.

The unanimous vote was the culmination of multiple P&Z meetings on proposed revisions to the city's comprehensive plan and the land-use designation of the future land-use map.

The recommendations are the result of an application by Sun Valley Co. Among requested amendments are changes to the proportion of multi-family to single-family homes on Prospector Hill, above City Hall on Elkhorn Road.

Commissioners began their June 30 meeting with a site visit to see what increased density could look like there.

The notion of some development did not stir controversy; many attendees who spoke at the meeting, however, raised concerns about the prospect of a denser Prospector Hill.

"This is going to be incredibly visible," Sun Valley resident Scott Rogers said.

He urged commissioners to keep in mind the aesthetics of the area and the impact that greater density would create.

Some members of the public suggested the city put stakes in the parcel to be able to visualize potential bulk of buildings. Others asked the commission to take more time before moving ahead with recommendations in order to allow for additional public input.

"This is not a small tweak to a comprehensive plan," resident Latham Williams said. "This is a big change, and I think it deserves a lot of attention. And to deal with it in the isolation of one developer's application at this magnitude and scope is a mistake."

Wally Huffman, Sun Valley Co.'s director of resorts and resort development, pushed the commission to move ahead with recommendations.

"I would just urge you not to slow down this process," he said. "It's going to take us months to get through the City Council process, if indeed we ever get through it."

He said the public has had time to review and comment on proposed amendments.

"To slow it down even further may feel good to some people who haven't participated in the process as much as they now would like to have participated," he added.

He said the city has done a "great job" of giving the public notice, and should finalize recommendations that day.

Commission Chair Ken Herich agreed.

"My thoughts on this is, I don't need any stakes ... because the stakes aren't set in stone," he said. "I think what we're seeing here is an evolution of what has turned into a tremendous success for the company. Dollar Cabin has turned into a revenue generator, a major asset for the city of Sun Valley, for the company. It's bringing people in here. So, with this success, from a planning point in my mind, it makes sense to create some density."

Commissioners and Huffman agreed to a smaller area for an increased proportion of multi-family homes than was initially proposed.

The application will now be sent to the City Council for review and more public hearings.

Rebecca Meany:

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