Wednesday, September 24, 2014

P&Z postpones Bigwood Bread decision

Commissioners say more time needed to read comments

Express Staff Writer

    The Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission decided Monday to defer deciding on bakery Bigwood Bread’s request for a later closing time at its location in the light-industrial zone until the next P&Z meeting on Oct. 13.
    Citing a high volume of e-mails pertaining to the issue received the day of the meeting, commissioners moved to consider the request at the next meeting in order to read all the public comments submitted. Any additional emails for commissioners to consider for the upcoming October meeting need to be received before the end of the business day on Oct. 6.
    Bigwood Bread attorney Jim Laski asked that City Council comments and the 20-plus letters received for the July City Council review of the 9 p.m. cutoff time in the Light Industrial-2 district be included in the P&Z’s packet.
    Commissioner Jeff Lamoureux phoned in to Monday’s meeting and wasn’t able to read new documents. Commissioner Deb Burns recused herself from voting based on an experience she had at a Bigwood Bread location last Friday. She said a flyer circulating at the restaurant giving people information about the upcoming P&Z meeting was upsetting to her, as it assumed the commissioners would vote against the bakery’s request.
    “Why act as if the city has done you a wrong before they’ve actually wronged you?” she said in an interview Tuesday.
    Ketchum’s LI-2 district allows for restaurants and small food establishments as a support service, provided they have no more than 1,000 square feet of gross floor area, end service at 9 p.m. and meet off-street parking requirements. Following a City Council decision in July, the time cutoff for service in the LI-2 district became flexible. Should a business seek and receive a conditional-use permit, hours can be extended.
    The decision was prompted by a request from Bigwood Bread owner George Golleher and Laski. Golleher recently completed an 11,000-square-foot bakery, restaurant and office building in the LI-2 district, called the Bigwood Plaza. It is across the street from the bakery’s current LI-2 location in the Sockeye Building. Golleher also operates the Bigwood Bread Café, a breakfast and lunch operation in downtown Ketchum.
    Golleher said at the Monday meeting that he doesn’t plan on opening the new $4.5 million dollar Bigwood Plaza seven nights a week, should the extension go through. Commissioners pressed him for more details about evening intentions for his business and Golleher said occasional special events and evening cooking classes are part of his plan. Golleher said his goal is to diversify Ketchum’s dining options and create more jobs within the city.
    He said his decision to pursue a later closing time was in response to requests he’s had to rent out the new Bigwood Plaza for special events, including a fundraiser for the Community School.
    The P&Z staff, in their packet to the commission, recommended against the time extension for Bigwood Bread. Citing the lack of “ambient industrial district population” in the area at night, department staff said the city should not expand “residential growth [that] might use a late-night restaurant service.”
    Allowing the LI-2 district to expand into the evening dining sector, the report indicates, could take away from the vitality and strength of the downtown commercial core.  
    There are 28 proximal residential units, the report indicated, in the Scott building immediately west of the Bigwood Plaza. Two residents of the Scott building spoke during the public comment period at Monday’s meeting. Resident Lee Echinova said the LI-2 areas are a “ghost town” after 6 p.m., though he was in favor of extending Bigwood’s time past 9 p.m. Another building resident, Jan Swanstrom, said she was concerned with noise emanating from the building at late hours. She said the LI-2 districts aren’t designed for people coming and going as late as 1 a.m.
    Golleher said he hopes to work within city ordinances to create an amicable restaurant setting that serves a function in the district without disturbing residents and other business owners.
    “We want to be good corporate citizens here,” he said.

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