Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Questions loom over URA housing plan

    The Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency has proposed a plan to exchange a lot located at 211 East First St. (Ketchum) (the “211 Parcel”) for a parcel or parcels of raw land lying west of Second Avenue, north of Sixth and south of Seventh streets, which we can call the “CHG Parcel.” The proposed exchange contemplates up-zoning of the CHG Parcel to a build-out of 21 to 24 units of designated affordable housing.
    I am writing this letter as a follow-up to an excellent public meeting with the KURA, Monday, Sept. 30, in connection with the subject exchange. Questions were addressed. Critical comments that had circulated in neighborhood e-mails were challenged by the KURA with evidence presented to counter and or to correct misconceptions.
    Of many remaining questions and concerns, three continue to bother me:

  • Following MAI appraisals of the parcels owned outright by the CHG group and the KURA 211 parcel, with further reference to Sections 1.1.2 and 2.2.1 of “Exchange Agreement for Real Property,” the KURA will exchange the 211 Parcel appraised at $1.045,000 for the CHG Parcel appraised at $616,500. “As additional consideration” (Sec. 2.2.1) in favor of CHG, the city of Ketchum will provide a housing credit to CHG releasing the 211 Parcel from the entire affordable-housing requirement that currently runs with the 211 Parcel. At a minimum, CHG receives a windfall tax-deferred gain of $428,500 Plus the housing credit that will undoubtedly sweeten the profit to CHG. Who, pray tell, negotiated this deal?
  • Interested party test: How many KURA commissioners, Ketchum council members, paid staff and spokespersons in favor of this exchange either own real property in Ketchum or are residents of Ketchum? If not owners or residents, by what arguments have they the legitimacy to weigh in on this transaction, to surrender assets and to spend tax dollars derived from the Ketchum Urban Renewal Area?
  • The public right of way that transects the 211 Parcel is today and has been in year-round use by the public since the right of way was abandoned by the railroad. The proposed affordable-housing project, benefiting a few at best. will deny trail access forever. The city of Ketchum claims ownership. That would be wrong. The citizens of Ketchum, the people, own the public right of way and are entitled to it.

Doug Kaiser

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