Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cemetery District asks Ketchum to vacate land rights

Plan could allow for potential expansion in the future


By ERIC AVISSAR
Express Staff Writer

   The Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission began discussions Monday on whether to vacate several portions of public rights of way to the Ketchum Cemetery District.
In its request to the city, the Ketchum Cemetery District calls for vacation of rights of way on two portions of 10th Street, a portion on Walnut Avenue and two portions of an alley. Benchmark Associates land planner Garth McClure spoke on behalf of the district, which operates the cemetery north of downtown.
    “The purpose of this petition request to vacate is to clean up the boundary of the cemetery,” McClure said. “It was felt that with adjoining the existing cemetery boundaries and the east side, there are some opportunities where the cemetery could expand into the future.”
McClure said the site is deemed very limited right now, and as the community grows, so will the need for more burial sites.


The purpose of this petition request to vacate
is to clean up the boundary of the cemetery.”

Garth McClure
Benchmark Associates land planner


    City Planning Manager Joyce Allgaier told the P&Z commission that it did not necessarily need to choose between vacating all rights of way proposed or none at all.
    “One good discussion we should have is to ask if this entire 10th Street right of way needs to be vacated, or considering that the city has all this land next to it, could there be a partial vacation that is coinciding with their plot plan,” Allgaier said. “It does feel natural that 10th Street goes into the cemetery.”
    Allgaier also said that developing the area above the cemetery’s property could be problematic because of the steep hills, potentially resulting in violations of the city’s hillside ordinances.
    In 2004, the city of Ketchum gave the Ketchum Cemetery District a 99-year lease for its property. As part of the lease, the city has the right to terminate the agreement with 60 days notice. Planning and Zoning co-chair Rich Fabiano said he would be interested in transferring the property altogether to the Cemetery District. Commissioner Jeff Lamoureaux disagreed.
     “It would be shortsighted for the city to give this property up,” Lamoureaux said. “We have to balance the interests of the public, and it’s a great facility for the community.”
Discussion on the issue will continue at the Feb. 10 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
Eric Avissar: eavissar@mtexpress.com




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