For the week of September 2 thru September 8, 1998  

Ketchum P&Z passes first affordable housing proposal

Conditional use permit approved for Fields at Warm Springs

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum’s first affordable housing development--to be built without any financial contribution from the city--was approved by the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday night.

By a 4 to 1 vote, the P&Z approve a conditional-use permit for a planned-unit development (PUD) at the Fields at Warm Springs.

By state law, a PUD permits higher density than that allowed under zoning regulations in exchange for other aspects of the development deemed beneficial to the city.

The P&Z discussed the 17 points of the PUD ordinance, and basically weighed the benefits of the 41-unit project, including its 14 affordable housing units, against an increase in density in a limited residential district.

The P&Z approved a request on Aug. 17 to subdivide the 2.2 acres on which the project will be developed from a larger, 27.8-acre portion of land belonging to Andy and Alice Schernthanner.

While there have been four public hearings on the PUD ordinance for the Fields at Warm Springs since architect Dale Bates took over the project in June, Monday night was the second hearing on the latest round of revisions, which included 30-foot setbacks of Warm Springs Road.

At the previous three hearings, public comment both for and against the proposal dominated the meeting, so the P&Z had yet to tackle the conditions of the PUD itself. Monday’s meeting limited public comment to the end of the PUD discussion, allowing the P&Z to go through the ordinance.

P&Z Member Rod Sievers continued to voice his objections to the density of the project, which is being developed by Sawtooth Development Ltd.

"Since we have the power to waive density requirements, lot size is academic," Sievers said. "The issues are deeper than that."

Other P&Z members said they were pleased with the benefits of affordable housing. In particular, P&Z member Sandee Balmer stressed that it was time for the city to take a chance with the PUD ordinance.

"I think the PUD gives people a little latitude," Balmer said. "I think we’ve come a long way and we have to give credibility to the project."

One condition that Sievers added to the conditional-use permit was control on the appreciated value of the 14 deed-restricted units.

"If we’re going to build [affordable housing], I don’t want to see it lost to appreciation," Sievers said.

The P&Z will recommend to the city council to a deed restriction to limit the appreciation of the affordable units to 3 percent annually.

Design review for the project began Monday night, and was continued to the next P&Z meeting on Sept. 14. The conditional-use permit will now have to be approved by the city council, which will most likely consider the matter on Sept. 21. At its next meeting on Sept. 8, the council will consider the subdivision request.

Developer Garth Schlemlein, for one, is eager to keep the process rolling.

"We’re pleased with the 4 to 1 vote and pleased with the conditional-use permit," he said. "Now we have to push through design review and on to the city council."

Schlemlein hopes that construction on the development will begin next spring and will take about six months.


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