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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. 

For the week of October 16 - 22, 2002


Hotel decision put off two weeks

Some citizens concerned with height

"It’s critical for this valley and its economy that we replace some of the hotel beds we’ve lost."

— CAROL WALLER, Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber and Visitors Bureau director

Express Staff Writer

The Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission appears to be moving ahead with plans to approve development of a large new hotel in downtown Ketchum.

But following a three-hour public hearing Monday night, the P&Z postponed a planned unit development request and design review approval of the new Bald Mountain Lodge to a special meeting on Nov. 7 at noon at Ketchum City Hall.

But commissioners appeared to like what they saw. The public, on the other hand, gave the project mixed reviews.

Approval or denial of the high-end, 81-room, 59-foot-tall hotel will take two forms: the planned unit development request and design review approval.

The P&Z is the ultimate authority on the design review matter, but is only a recommending body on the PUD, which enables a developer to trade city benefits for leniency in the city’s zoning regulations.

In this case, Ketchum attorney and Bald Mountain Lodge developer Brian Barsotti is offering Ketchum a hotel in exchange for five waivers to city ordinance:

·  The city’s building height limits.

·  A required third floor setback on River and First streets.

·  A required horizontal break on building walls every 55 feet.

·  A required break in roof lines every 60 feet.

·  A six-month expiration time limit of design review approval.

The Ketchum City Council will have the final say on the PUD request.

A crowd of about 50 watched Barsotti and architect Larry Stricker make a presentation about the project Monday night, and Barsotti put a lot of effort into diffusing concerns about the building’s height.

Historically, he said, Ketchum had tall buildings, and the neighboring city of Sun Valley allows buildings of more than 60 feet.

During the months Barsotti has been planning the hotel, he said he has studied the effects different building heights have when evaluated from the street. By stepping floors back from the streets in a "wedding cake" fashion, the impacts to street-level views are actually lessened, despite a maximum 59-foot height.

The building’s height on Main Street will be 30 feet, and street-level views should not be impacted much more than if the building were only 30 feet tall, Stricker said.

Of the 22 people who commented at Monday’s meeting, eight said the city should not allow buildings higher than the existing 38.5-foot and 40-foot height limits for flat roofs and pitched roofs, respectively.

In general, those who objected said, while the project is attractive, allowing such a tall building will set a dangerous precedent.

"Once you open the doors to the floodgates, I can’t imagine what will happen next," said Ketchum resident Steve Hogan.

Those speaking for the new hotel, in general, cited the 143 hotel rooms the northern Wood River Valley lost in the last four years.

"It’s critical for this valley and its economy that we replace some of the hotel beds we’ve lost," Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber and Visitors Bureau Director Carol Waller said.

Barsotti said the financing for the project is treading a fine line, and design review and PUD approval won’t necessarily mean success. The cost, per room, to build the hotel is around $325,000, Barsotti said. If built, rooms would cost between $200 and $225 a night.

"I’ve got to be honest with you," he said. "If we get approved, I’m not sure it’s going to get built."



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