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For the week of  October 17 - 23, 2001


Cold Springs balks at planned church

Express Staff Writer

When the congregation of the Light on the Mountain Spiritual Center found a reasonably priced house for sale on State Highway 75, a few miles south of Ketchum, they thought it would make a perfect church. But residents of the Cold Springs neighborhood just next door say not in their backyard.

The Cold Springs residents worry about more traffic the church could bring, possible new bright parking lot lights, and what their Sunday mornings would be like if they had to listen to the rousing singing the worshipers traditionally include in their services.

Church members say they would be good neighbors and an asset to the community.

Both sides argued their cases Thursday before the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission, which could help settle the matter by granting or denying a permit for the church.

About two dozen people showed up for the public hearing, many of whom made persuasive arguments that the commissioners said would make voting on the matter difficult.

The church would be located in a house in the Gimlet View subdivision at 12444 State Highway 75. The congregation of about 35 members would meet on weekday evenings for classes and other events and on Sunday mornings for services.

The church currently meets in a house on Greenhorn Road, where neighbors "appreciate having the music on Sunday mornings," said church member Bob Grabowski.

That comment elicited raised eyebrows from Tracy Fagan who recently bought a house in Cold Springs with her fiancée and said she values the quiet, residential quality of the neighborhood.

Deborah Kronenberg, an attorney who also lives in Cold Springs, said the church could act as a Trojan Horse by serving in the future as justification for allowing more non-residential development nearby.

Trying to assuage skeptics’ fears, one church member said "I would invite anyone in the neighborhood to come join us to see what we’re about."

Taul Paul, an advocate for the church but not a member, said simply, "churches are a part of neighborhoods."

As compelling as these arguments were to the group, the commissioners said their decision might come down to something as prosaic as whether an organization as large as a church could have legal access off the highway, whether the property’s deed restrictions would allow a church or whether the house is located far enough away from the road to allow it to be a church.

The commission scheduled another meeting on the matter for Nov. 8 and suggested church members and Cold Springs residents meanwhile meet separately to try to work out their differences.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.