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Hemingway in Sun Valley
Real Estate

For the week of January 17 through January 23, 2001

Make `em mind

Better to ask for forgiveness later than permission now seems to be the motto of some developers in the valley. And why not?

Neither valley cities nor the county have enforcement positions within their planning and zoning departments. Planners will investigate problems if someone calls them to their attention, but there is no consistent enforcement. Worse, when problems are found, elected officials rarely pursue penalties for violations.

The result is unfair and inconsistent "don’t ask, don’t tell" enforcement of development requirements. While planners may nitpick one developer for having a single tree out of place, they are just as likely to overlook very serious problems.

For example, a developer excavated an estimated 10,000 cubic yards from a hillside in the Ketchum Warm Springs area—five times the area originally estimated. The gaping hole left neighbors fearful about what would happen to their homes if deep snows or a lot of rain landed on the hillside.

No one at the city planning office could answer their questions. No one could tell them why the gash was bigger than any excavation anyone had ever seen in the area. They promised to investigate—after the deed was done.

Blaine County recently experienced similar problems when berms built in the highly visible Golden Eagle Ranch project exceeded allowable heights—until someone complained.

No one likes government regulations, but situations like these point out the need for enforcement. In the long run, it would save everyone time and money by making it tougher to get forgiveness than permission.




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