For the week of July 15 thru July 21, 1998  

Hillside home ended up as anything but

Express Staff Writer

15house.gif (9485 bytes)This rendering of the Childs’ proposed home caused neighbors to protest.

Neighbors’ frenzy over a five-pyramid-topped home before Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commissioners Thursday night was for naught in the end.

Because the P&Z voted Steven and Paula Childs’ rather unorthodox, single-story home up Eagle Creek north of Ketchum was not in the Mountain Overlay District--as was assumed before the hearing--the couple is free to build as they wish.

That is to say, whether it is brilliantly inventive, offensively obtrusive, or whatever anyone else called the green copper pyramid-topped residence designed by architect Jack Smith, it couldn’t matter less.

Blaine County’s Mountain Overlay District is a zone of sloped land where building is limited. The law governing that zone is the Hillside Ordinance.

When the site for the home was determined not to be on a hillside, the Childs were left needing only to get a building permit.

Before that determination was made, however, the roomful of Eagle Creek residents at the hearing was ready for a major P&Z design review of the home and a few grew quite exercised over what the architect Smith described as design referencing natural, mountain, and Native American landscapes.

Some neighbors said they just didn’t feel a home that would be so sculptural was right for their isolated draw, and hoped the P&Z would tell the Childs to make their home less visible.

"I can’t legislate my taste on someone else," the Childs’ next-door neighbor to-be Judy D’Angelo said, adding, "This is a rural area. We just think that the structure is out of scope for the area."

Blaine County Zoning Administrator Deborah Vignes advised the P&Z to examine the home under the Hillside Ordinance, and the hearing was set up to review the Childs’ plans in light of that law.

"Deborah made the correct decision [about the site] when viewing it from the road and from viewing it on the map, however, it’s up to people like us to scrutinize these decisions and make fair decisions," P&Z member Tom Bowman said.

Because P&Z agreed the Childs’ residence was not on a hillside--and voted as such--neither they nor neighbors have a say in how the home will look.

After the hearing, D’Angelo said she and her husband are "exploring avenues" with their attorney, looking for a way to have some say in the spire-topped home’s design.


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