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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 December 24 - 30, 2002


Sun Valley halts new commercial developments

Declares 120-day moratorium 
to review zoning

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley City Council members Thursday approved a 120-day moratorium on the processing of new applications for development projects in Elkhorn Village and Sun Valley Village.

The emergency ordinance received unanimous support from council members, despite objections from an attorney representing developer CG-Elkhorn, which is planning to commence redevelopment of the defunct Elkhorn Resort in early 2003.

The moratorium proposal was put forth Thursday by city staff in an effort to buy time for the city to review the land-use regulations that govern land parcels in the city’s Commercial Core zoning districts. The CC districts in Sun Valley generally encompass the village centers of Sun Valley and Elkhorn.

Jack Cloud, Sun Valley community development director, told council members that the ordinance was drafted in response to a potential surge in development applications for CC-zoned lands that propose only residential uses—rather than the intended mix of residential and commercial uses.

Cloud noted that one such application—for a 111-unit condominium complex called Sun Villas—has already been filed, and another from CG-Elkhorn is anticipated in the near future.

Cloud said the language in the regulations governing permission for projects in the CC districts is outdated and needs to be revised and clarified. "Right now it’s pretty wide open," he said.

The approval of the moratorium by the council followed a move by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday, Dec. 17, to approve a resolution declaring that P&Z members would like to review the zoning regulations for the CC districts "in light of potential changes to the two commercial villages in the City of Sun Valley."

The P&Z resolution notes that the proposal for the Sun Villas development in Elkhorn calls for no commercial use of the CC-zoned site, and that CG-Elkhorn has proposed to demolish Elkhorn Resort and redevelop that site as an essentially residential project.

The resolution also notes that "the Sun Valley Company has hired a planning consultant to master plan its property, which includes the other commercial village in the city of Sun Valley."

Council members Thursday agreed that the P&Z should immediately commence a review of the language governing the zoning district. Council members told Cloud that city staff could hire a professional planning consultant to assist in the review process, if it is deemed necessary.

The emergency ordinance declaring the 120-day moratorium states: "a moratorium on the issuance of subdivision or other land use permits within the CC districts is necessary to enable the city to review and analyze the appropriate mix of residential and commercial use, as well as to study the height, density and building bulk restrictions appropriate to the CC districts."

The ordinance issues a mandate to the P&Z to conduct the review, and to hold a public hearing on the matter within 60 days.

Mayor David Wilson called for swift action by the P&Z. "I don’t want this dragged out past 120 days," he said.

Ned Williamson, attorney for CG-Elkhorn, objected to the proposed moratorium ordinance.

"It’s very broad," he said.

He said CG-Elkhorn has drafted new plans to redevelop the Elkhorn Resort site with a "lower density" project with "lower building heights" and "some commercial uses."

In a reference to the Sun Villas project, he added: "The real issue at hand is what’s going on with another parcel."

Indeed, the Sun Villas project has alarmed some Elkhorn residents and city planners because it proposes to take advantage of the maximum height and density criteria of the CC district without providing any commercial services or other community benefits.

In addition, city officials in recent months have expressed concern that an overall loss of commercial services in Sun Valley—particularly in Elkhorn—could result in a loss of local option tax revenues derived from certain commercial activities.

Despite the unanimous vote in support of the moratorium, not all council members agreed that Elkhorn can be restored as a viable commercial center.

"I’m not so sure (Elkhorn) needs to be a commercial core," Councilman Kevin Laird said, noting that he thought the village had become a "white elephant."

Realtor Toni Lash disagreed with Laird. "If people would stop saying, ‘It’s a white elephant. It sucks,’ then it might not suck," she said.

The moratorium will not affect project applications that have already been formally submitted to the city, including that for the Sun Villas project, Cloud said.

Cloud noted that the ordinance—which took effect immediately upon its approval—would not have any bearing on residential remodeling projects in the CC districts.


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