Friday, July 29, 2011

Too little density?

The Sun Valley City Council heard residents' objections to higher development densities proposed for zoning on property on Prospector Hill this week.

The objections were not exactly new in the world of public hearings on higher densities in mountain resort communities. They weren't a surprise in a community that one local wag claims has been "resisting change since 1936."

The City Council should think very carefully before it rejects higher densities on Prospector Hill. What it rejects today could injure the resort in the future.

The area in question is prime development land across from Dollar Mountain, which is now home to one of the best terrain parks around and has become a center of activity for families vacationing in Sun Valley.

Not only is the property a good location for a lot of residential units, it could be a good place for a boutique hotel—instead of, or in addition to, multi-family units. It's on Elkhorn Road, near the chairlifts, across from the bike path and a hop, skip and a jump from Sun Valley Village. A small hotel there would have a spectacular view of Baldy and would be Dollar's ski-in, ski-out facility.

The question the City Council should be asking is whether the development proposed there will help nurture the area's recreation economy over the long run.

Sun Valley isn't a wilderness area even though it's bounded by national forest. Members of the council, who have annually expressed their dismay at the levels of local-option sales taxes collected by the city, should look for ways to boost the area's overall economy, especially in appropriate places like this one.

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