Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ketchum P&Z tackles code revisions

Effort designed to clarify regulations

Express Staff Writer

One upside to the economic downturn is more time for projects that had been sidelined because of busy schedules.

The Ketchum Planning & Zoning Commission and city staff began discussing code revisions during a workshop Monday.

"It's a process that jurisdictions have to go through," said Planning Associate Rebecca Bundy. "We've been keeping a list since 2006."

The P&Z is starting with tasks than can be accomplished quickly, such as creating or refining definitions, revising inconsistencies within codes and modifying language that has been problematic over the years.

"There are places in codes that seem to have different intents," she said.

By reviewing wording, commissioners and staff can ensure that each code, and each part of each code, aligns with the original intent.

Tightening language and adding specifics also will help make the approval process more predictable.

"We want to make things less arbitrary," Bundy said. "Sometimes it's vague, and when it's vague then we have to interpret, and that's not good."

Complex amendments that will be taken up later include an evaluation of the form-based code and transfer of development rights.

Among dozens of other items set for discussion are public noticing policies, land-use application submittal requirements, riparian corridor updates, a "green" building code and community gardens.

"We want to make our code more (environmentally) sustainable," Bundy said.

The update also will include more and better graphics to help illustrate code requirements.

"There's a lot we can do to make it more user-friendly," she said.

The P&Z will continue its review at a meeting later this summer. Once commissioners have agreed on multiple recommendations, a public hearing will be scheduled.

Recommendations then will be submitted to the City Council for more hearings and approval or denial of suggested changes.

The process will continue in segments over the next couple of years, Bundy said.

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