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For the week of May 3 through May 9, 2000

Six month building freeze extension approved

Ketchum hires design consultant

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum will retain its emergency regulations on downtown building height and bulk for an additional six months while city planners work with a consultant to draft new design review criteria.

In a joint city council and planning and zoning commission meeting Thursday, the council unanimously voted in favor of the six month interim ordinance.

Members also gave a green light for up to $45,000 of the planning department’s budget to be spent to hire Boulder, Colo.-based Winter & Co. design review consultants.

Councilman Maurice Charlat was absent.

In answering questions from approximately two dozen local residents and developers in attendance, Councilman David Hutchinson said the intent in drafting new design review regulations will be to effect a "reduction in scale and bulk and maintain the FARs (floor area ratios).

"We’re not trying to maintain shacks. We’re going to end up with smaller scale buildings."

Floor area ratios are a building’s square footage divided by its lot size. They are one tool by which planners can calculate building bulk.

Sun Valley resident and Ketchum Realtor Dick Fenton summed up what he thinks the council’s action will accomplish.

"It will forestall some larger buildings while the design standards are still subjective," he said.

The planning and zoning commission agreed that existing design standards are subjective.

"The reason we’re doing this is that the ordinance as it was previously written gave us very few useful tools," Commissioner Rod Sievers told the council. "Other than FARs, height and setbacks, the criteria were very subjective.

"We have not had the appropriate tools to work with."

On Thursday morning, planning and zoning members and planning administrator Lisa Horowitz interviewed Winter & Co. president Nore Winter and appeared impressed with his experience dealing with Rocky Mountain towns.

He’s drafted design review standards for Colorado mountain cities Steamboat, Breckenridge and Telluride, and Park City, Utah.

Winter said in a telephone interview with P&Z members and Horowitz that his role in Ketchum would primarily be that of a facilitator—to help inform the existing debate about what Ketchum is and what it may become.

In a letter to Horowitz, Winter elaborated.

"Winter & Co. specializes in working with resort towns and towns or districts of special character to develop design guidelines and standards that will help protect their distinct heritage and defining characteristics.

"We understand the concerns expressed by Ketchum’s residents about the need to preserve the scale and character of the downtown community core."

In the interview, Winter also said maintaining the FAR and height restrictions for six months is a good idea.

He is expected to make his first visit to Ketchum in late May or early June, when he said he will evaluate the visual character of the city and take an inventory of buildings people like.

Following the interview, Commissioner Susan Scovell was enthusiastic.

"It’s a science," she said. "Here we are just flailing around and he just zipped right in."

In response to several large proposed and under-construction buildings in Ketchum, the city council enacted a 120-day emergency ordinance on Feb. 7.

The newly enacted ordinance will last for six months from the time the emergency ordinance expires, or until new design standards are completed.


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