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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 December 11 - 17, 2002


Community School 
plan tabled—again

Sun Valley P&Z troubled by traffic issue

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley Planning and Zoning commissioners Tuesday thoughtfully debated how to control traffic to and from a proposed new campus of The Community School, but finally continued the matter after asking for a detailed transit plan from school representatives.

The directive came during a nearly three-hour review of an application by the Sun Valley-based school to construct and operate a new elementary school on its approximately 30-acre Sagewillow campus in Elkhorn.

The public hearing on the application Tuesday was continued from an October meeting of the P&Z. The panel in the last year has conducted six public hearings on the plan, all of which have seen the proposal tabled because of concerns over the impacts of the school and its associated activities on the surrounding neighborhood.

Commissioners Tuesday voted unanimously to take the matter up again at their regular meeting on Jan. 14.

The panel also issued an order to project representative Lori Labrum and attorney J. Evan Robertson to work with city planners and administrative staff to devise an explicit plan that shows how the school will control traffic on the property’s access route on Arrowleaf Road.

As they have in the past, commissioners suggested to school representatives that a conditional use permit for the school would be justified if the proper mitigation measures were implemented to reduce the project’s negative impacts.

Commissioners Tuesday asked city staff and school officials to develop a plan that would generally limit the number of vehicle trips to and from the Sagewillow campus to 480 per day in September and October and 400 per day the remainder of the school year. The number—which would differ in the autumn months to accommodate soccer games and practices—will likely be controlled so the school cannot routinely carry over unused vehicle trips to future dates.

The request stipulated that the plan allow for some flexibility in the daily number of vehicle trips, but also restrict pronounced surges in traffic for special events.

The discussion Tuesday was marked by frustration among the project’s proponents, opponents, and the commissioners themselves.

Robertson told commissioners that he felt the panel had deviated from a previous directive to plan for an allowance of 480 daily vehicle trips, which could be averaged over the course of one month.

"From my standpoint, I’m not sure what you guys want from us," he said.

However, several neighbors of the Sagewillow campus said they felt the frustrations could have arisen because others think the project simply isn’t appropriate for the site.

"I don’t understand why you don’t just turn this down," said Elkhorn resident Nyle Barnes.

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 several new structures, including a 6,700-square-foot administration and education building, a 4,550-square-foot "community room" and a 9,800-square-foot, two-story classroom building.

The proposal also calls for construction of an 800-square-foot caretaker’s residence and a 168-square-foot observatory.

Additional phases would include a library, additional classrooms and a multi-purpose structure. Opening-year enrollment was proposed to be set at 132 students, and enrollment upon completion of the entire development was set at 190 students.

The project—including improvements to the existing Trail Creek campus—has been estimated to cost $10 million.

The school is planning to open the new campus in 2004.


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