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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

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For the week of March 27 - April 2, 2002


Put the lid on

There’s no good reason to allow Ketchum homes to be taller than commercial buildings.

Ketchum is grappling—again—with the amazing tendency of homes located on hillsides to creep ever upward. It seems that every time the city puts the lid on roof creep, some enterprising designer finds a way to wriggle out of city restrictions.

Broadly written city ordinances that restrict the height of hillside residences encourage wriggling by designers who want to build homes that make "statements" for their clients.

Yet, one person’s "statement" is another’s nightmare. They leave downtown developers spluttering about the unfairness of a city that allows homes to be taller than downtown commercial structures.

Authors of hillside height ordinances invariably get lost in the tangled vines of grades, backfills, finished grades and slopes. To watch a group of otherwise intelligent people trying to define how tall is tall is to enter into Alice’s Wonderland. Just when they think they’ve got it nailed, the White Rabbit shows up and leads everyone off into a new thicket.

The city should bring hillside residences back to earth by restricting long driveways and forcing them to begin at street level and to top out at 35 feet—the city’s height limit. No long driveways or retaining walls that cause houses to loom over neighborhoods should be allowed.

After decades of dealing with the question, it’s time the city got it right. It’s time to end the hillside digs and the surprise towers that inspire widespread community dismay.


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.