For the week of June 30, 1999  thru July 6, 1999  

County studies myriad land uses

McHanville: Annexation and uses are sticky issues


By KEVIN WISER
Express Staff Writer

u30mchanville.jpg (10223 bytes)The relative merits of encouraging commercial use or affordable housing at McHanville were tossed around by Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission members during a workshop Thursday.

Workshop members focused on appropriate land uses in the area.

Attending were county planning and zoning administrator Linda Haavik, county and city officials, St. Luke’s Hospital officials and McHanville property owners.

Affordable housing, hospital expansion and commercial zoning changes were some of the issues on the table.

The area is located south of Ketchum at the construction site of a new St. Luke’s hospital.

P&Z commissioner Joel Graff said most hospitals have health care facilities close to their sites. He speculated that doctors may move out of existing office facilities in Ketchum to be closer to the new hospital.

P&Z commissioner Theresa Comber said the McHanville area had been a burr in the county’s saddle for a long time because it includes such a variety of uses.

Comber said she thought hospital facilities should be included at the site, but that affordable housing should also be there.

P&Z commissioner Cindy Mann said if the county loses this opportunity to preserve affordable housing there, it may not find a place for it in the north part of the county.

Steve Wolper, president of Blaine County Citizens for Smart Growth, said he didn’t want to see the rural character of the entrance to Ketchum changed by facilities associated with the hospital. He said such development would displace affordable housing, which is mandated by the county’s comprehensive plan.

John Moses, Wood River Medical Center’s chief executive offficer, said St. Luke’s is interested in affordable housing, but equally interested in meeting the needs of the community over the next 50 years.

He added that St. Luke’s doesn’t intend to put in three-story office buildings and turn the area into a mega-structure of hospital facilities.

McHanville property owners who participated in the discussion all said affordable housing is not appropriate in McHanville due to its proximity to a future five-lane highway and safety considerations for children.

Steve Horowitz, Blaine County Housing Authority chairman, acknowledged that safety considerations need to be addressed, but said the county should not rule out affordable housing in McHanville.

Blaine County Commissioner Leonard Harlig said county and city planners should not be constrained to one or two types of uses in the McHanville area.

"I think we’re getting trapped into a box of our own making," he said.

 

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