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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 November 13 - 19, 2002


Tall Ketchum hotel receives P&Z approval

Complete with 69-foot clock tower

Express Staff Writer

A large, new high-end hotel received the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission’s unanimous endorsement Thursday, despite a height that, at its very highest, is 29 feet taller than the 40 feet the city allows in its ordinances.

The P&Z gave the 59-foot-tall Bald Mountain Hotel design review approval and sent the Ketchum City Council a recommendation to approve the building’s height, which includes a 69-foot-tall clock tower. The building would replace the historic Bald Mountain Lodge, which occupies an entire block at the south end of Ketchum’s Main Street.

Commissioner Greg Strong was absent from the meeting.

The architectural plans, said Commissioner Rod Sievers, are "a first-class proposal we should embrace and send on to the council."

The Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously endorsed plans Thursday for a new Bald Mountain Hotel that would be 69-feet tall at its highest point and 59-feet tall at its highest roof line. Architect’s rendering

The P&Z acknowledged the building’s height, but said the economic benefits of a hotel would outweigh any negative impacts the building might impose on Ketchum’s skyline.

Ketchum-based attorney Brian Barsotti, who is proposing to develop the hotel, spent about a half-hour trying to diffuse public objections to the building’s height, which he said is necessary to accommodate the planned 88 high-end rooms. He said he would be willing to lower the roof by 4 feet 6 inches by lessening the roof’s pitch, but the building’s architect, Larry Stricker, said that could harm the building’s proportions.

"It would be like someone wearing a hat that’s too small," he said.

The P&Z ultimately agreed with Stricker’s assessment.

The meeting included a two-hour public hearing in which most citizens who spoke said they were adamantly opposed to any extra height allowances.

"This is a big mistake," said Hailey resident and Ketchum Community Library employee Crystal Thurston. "We’re destroying the soul of our town, and we need to protect the beauty of our town."

Thurston said the building would fit better if it were to be situated against a mountain.

Steve Hogan, another opponent, sarcastically added that the new hotel would at least make the First Bank of Idaho building look smaller.

"All I’m trying to suggest is that we control where we’re going before we get there too quickly," Hogan said.

Hogan and others said the building will set a precedent that other downtown developers will take advantage of.

"This is a beautiful project, there’s no doubt about it, but the height scares me," he said.

The 88-room, four-story Bald Mountain Hotel is proposed to have a 59-foot roofline with a 69-foot clock tower.

The 59-foot-tall, fourth story would only cover 12 percent of the building near its center, Barsotti said.

Main Street would be fronted by a 30-foot, two-story façade.

"People need to understand that it’s only in the center that it’s this high, that other portions of the project are lower," Ketchum’s acting planning administrator, Harold Moniz, said.

Barsotti said the four-story, stepped back building appears to impact views less than a three-story, bulkier version he had previously studied.

Ultimate city approval of he building is contingent on the planned unit development (PUD) application, which would allow the extra height, and on design review approval, which the P&Z granted last week.

The Ketchum City Council is scheduled to host a public hearing on Barsotti’s PUD height application at its regular meeting Dec. 16.



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