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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.
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For the week of Oct 30 - Nov 5, 2002


Community School proposal inching forward

Sun Valley P&Z sets tentative limits on traffic

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley Planning and Zoning commissioners last week told representatives of The Community School to devise a plan to strictly limit car traffic at a proposed new campus in Elkhorn if they want their application to gain further consideration.

If approved by Sun Valley, The Community School’s proposed new elementary school would be located on its Sagewillow campus in Elkhorn. Express photo by David N. Seelig


The instructions came at a three-hour workshop Oct. 23 for P&Z commissioners to discuss ways to reduce the negative impacts of a plan by The Community School to build a new elementary school on its approximately 30-acre Sagewillow campus.

The special workshop was scheduled on Oct. 8, after P&Z commissioners decided to table the school’s application for a Conditional Use Permit because of ongoing concerns about traffic, noise and public safety in neighborhoods adjacent to the campus.

Of particular concern to commissioners and neighbors of the site was a predicted substantial increase in vehicle traffic on Arrowleaf Road, the primary access road to the Sagewillow campus.

After considering multiple pages of data, including a report issued by City Administrator Dan Pincetich and City Engineer Betsy Roberts, the P&Z tentatively set at 480 the daily average number of vehicles that can travel through the school gateway accessed by Arrowleaf Road.

Essentially, the number is an average of several different traffic-threshold figures suggested by individual members of the panel. In a poll taken by P&Z Chairman Jim McLaughlin, commissioners put forth figures ranging from 400 to 550 for the allowable maximum of average daily trips at the site.

The panel determined that the figure would include all trips to and from the site, including those for community gatherings and sports events. If employed, the figure would be compiled as a daily average of the total number of trips accrued in a month.

Robertson said school officials would accept the number as a target for traffic figures to be outlined in a revised permit application scheduled to be considered by the P&Z Dec. 10.

"Believe me, this has been significant to us," he said.

Robertson early in the meeting asked commissioners to consider allowing 850 school-related trips on Arrowleaf Road in September and October—during the school’s soccer season—and 700 average daily trips in other months. He noted that the school would have been willing to accept a range of penalties for violating the suggested limits.

However, commissioners generally felt that the maximum number should be significantly lower. "I think what this all boils down to is the impact on the neighbors," Commissioner Mark Pynn said.

In tabling the application Oct. 8, commissioners individually suggested they might vote in favor of the establishment of a new elementary school on the Sagewillow campus if significant mitigation measures were made to lessen the impacts on neighborhood residents.

In addition to reducing future car traffic, the panel asked school officials to devise ways to lessen the noise impacts of the proposed school, design additional parking areas, redesign a proposed bike path configured to link with the city path system; outline the number of school-related events slated to take place at the site, and provide a detailed construction schedule for the three-phase project.

As the first phase of the plan to develop a new elementary school campus at the outdoor/recreation-zoned site, The Community School has proposed to construct a 6,790-square-foot administration and education building, a 4,550-square-foot "community room" and a 9,800-square-foot, two-story classroom building, plus a small caretaker’s residence and a 168-square-foot observatory.

Additional phases would include a library, additional classrooms and a multi-purpose structure. The school plans to open the new campus in 2004.

The entire project has been estimated to cost approximately $10 million, including improvements proposed for the school’s existing Trail Creek campus.

In ensuing discussions about the plan, commissioners suggested that a bike path to the school linked to the city’s path network might not be necessary.

Presiding planner John Gaeddert said he would need to research whether a path might be required to keep the project in compliance with the city’s Comprehensive Plan.



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