Friday, August 19, 2011

Sun Valley P&Z sides with SVEA opposition

Commissioners vote to recommend denial of associationís application

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley Planning & Zoning Commission dealt an initial blow to potential plans by the Sun Valley Elkhorn Association for future development of land it owns on Prospector Hill.

The SVEA applied to the city for changes to the future land-use map in the city's comprehensive plan. The P&Z unanimously voted Thursday to recommend that the City Council deny the application.

The area targeted for land-use changes is 18 acres across the street from Dollar Mountain. About half of it currently is designated in the comp plan as recreational use, and the other half is identified in the comp plan as open space. The association's proposed amendment would redesignate the entire 18 acres to low-density residential.

The question commissioners had to consider was whether they could envision a different land use on the area. They were not tasked with considering a rezone.

"It is simply a request that the city of Sun Valley consider its vision for the piece of property," said Ed Lawson, attorney for SVEA.

More than 40 people attended the meeting, and approximately half spoke against the application. No member of the public in attendance spoke in favor of it.

"This is a very passionate issue. I can tell by all the people in the room," said Commission Chairman Ken Herich.

Many members of the public invoked the city's comprehensive plan, saying the community's vision for the city is one that respects open space. Others decried the drop in home values that could result from development on the hill.

Sun Valley resident Harry Griffith said development would impact wildlife, recreation opportunities such as hiking, and avalanche and fire safety.

"I would like to see more detailed deliberations," he said, asking the city to "weigh the benefits against the costs."

Commissioner Jake Provonsha said he was not against development, but had issues with this particular application.

"I just fail to see how that (development of) property could benefit our sense of community and the vision for Sun Valley and Elkhorn," he said.

Commissioners John Gaeddert and Margaret Walker recused themselves from deliberations and from voting due to conflicts of interest.

The application will now go to the City Council for review, deliberations and public hearings. The date for that meeting has not yet been set.

Rebecca Meany:

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