For the week of August 19 thru August 25, 1998  

Planning and zoning OKs Warm Springs lot division

PUD still under consideration


By KATHRYN BEAUMONT
Express Staff Writer

They moved the setbacks. They lowered the density. They addressed snow removal.

But Sawtooth Development L.L.C., developers for the Fields at Warm Springs, have only advanced their proposal one small step past the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission since it began public hearings on the project last month.

After a public hearing Aug. 17, the P&Z voted to approve the request to subdivide Andy and Alice Schernthanner’s 27.8-acre lot on Warm Springs Road.

However, after a third public hearing on a planned unit development request, the P&Z decided to postpone its consideration of the application to another special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 31 at city hall.

The subdivision request was to divide 2.2 acres, on which the proposed development would be built, from a larger, 27.8-acre lot.

Some residents who attended the public hearing expressed concern about the potential development of the land, and many wanted to see a master plan for the remaining 25.6-acre lot.

"You wouldn’t design a house room by room," said Ed Lawson, an attorney representing homeowners in the Four Seasons Condominiums next door to the proposed project. "You shouldn’t allow a developer to develop two acres at a time."

Ned Williamson, attorney for the developers, argued that a master plan for the lot was not a mandatory requirement.

"The difficulty is that the Schernthanner’s don’t know what they’re going to do with the land. They’re not developers," he said.

Fears about increased traffic and safely problems on Warm Springs Road resurfaced during this public hearing, but a more impassioned plea centered around the Heidelburg Trail.

The heavily traveled path crosses the Schernthanner’s land, going over Heidelburg Hill into Adam’s Gulch. Both residents and P&Z members expressed concern that if the Schernthanner’s ever sold that portion of the lot, a new owner might not be as generous as they have been about public access.

The P&Z voted 4-1--with P&Z member Rod Sievers voting against--to approve the lot division, with the conditions that an easement be secured for Hillside Drive or Wanderer’s Way as an access to Adam’s Gulch and that the remaining 25.6-acre plot be master-planned if, in the future, it is ever developed.

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Once the 2.2-acre lot was set aside for the potential development, the P&Z turned its attention back to the planned unit development ordinance, and held a third public hearing on the issue.

Architect Dale Bates presented his revised plans, which included one less building to provide lower density and 30-foot setbacks along Warm Springs Road.

‘There are very few other subdivisions that meet these standards," he said, demonstrating the building materials, as well as a sun study.

Whether or not this level of density was required for affordable housing and whether or not the affordable units would actually sell were new concerns of many residents who spoke during the second public hearing of the evening.

"I think we are premature in judgments, because we don’t have a good definition of what is affordable housing," said Kathy Wygle. "This could be a dismal failure; it’s a difficult first project because it’s on Warm Springs Road."

Mo O’Connell, a member of the Blaine County Housing Authority, however, said the Ketchum City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission have said consistently they would support affordable housing if it didn’t relay any costs to taxpayers.

"This is a trade of a benefit for a benefit," she said. "That’s how PUD’s work."

City officials pointed out that the private developer’s financial intentions were not an evaluation standard of the PUD ordinance.

The developers have said they plan to sell the two-bedroom, two-bath units for about $135,000, which is less than the $140,000 maximum price designated by Ketchum Community Housing Guidelines.

These 14 affordable units range between 950 and 1,025 square feet. Recent real estate listings in Ketchum show comparable two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments of around 1,000 square feet selling between $160,000 and $250,000, according to the Sawtooth Board of Realtors’ Multiple Listings Service.

 

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