local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 last week
 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info

 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs



Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

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 Jan 29 - Feb 4, 2003


Council vote on hotel expected today—really


Bald Mountain Hotel vote expected

What? Ketchum City Council members told the citizens of Ketchum last week that they would vote today on Ketchum attorney Brian Barsotti’s Bald Mountain Hotel proposal, which has proven controversial because of its 59-foot height.

Where: Ketchum City Hall

When: Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 5:30 p.m.

Express Staff Writer

A majority of meeting participants said last week that Ketchum’s low-lying skyline is too precious to sacrifice in the name of economic development.

Of the 43 Wood River Valley residents who addressed the Ketchum City Council at a public hearing Jan. 21, 28 said a private-sector proposal to build a hotel 20 feet higher than the city’s height limits should be denied city approval. The meeting, which attracted more than 100 people, was one of the most well attended Ketchum forums in more than four years.

At the three-hour hearing’s conclusion, Councilwoman Chris Potters and many citizens pleaded for a vote.

"Right now, I think the people have spoken more than once about wanting a low profile to the town," Potters said. "What we’re doing is, we’re wearing people out. We’re not doing good government here. What we’re doing is taking up people’s time."

Nonetheless, the city council voted 2 to 1, with Councilman Baird Gourlay recusing himself, to put a vote off until Wednesday, Jan. 29. Potters voted against putting the decision off. Gourlay chose to recuse himself from the proceedings based on a perceived, though not legal, conflict of interest.

Last February, Ketchum attorney Brian Barsotti arrived at Ketchum City Hall to begin discussing the possibility of building a hotel at the historic Bald Mountain Lodge site in downtown Ketchum.

By mid-summer, Barsotti submitted plans to the city, and, in a series of public meetings with the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission, those plans were whittled down to the present proposal: an 81-room, 59-foot-tall hotel that covers most of an entire city block and steps back in tiers from the property’s edges.

The P&Z endorsed the plan unanimously and forwarded a recommendation to the city council to do the same.

But once at the city council level early in January, word spread rapidly throughout Ketchum and throughout the Wood River Valley. Opposition, primarily to the 59-foot height, propagated.

"It’s just too damn big," said Tona Leiseth of Ketchum. "People don’t come here for the buildings. They come here for the mountains."

But the existing Bald Mountain Lodge is not likely to be on the site for long, even if the hotel plans are denied, pointed out Ketchum attorney Barry Luboviski, who was working on Barsotti’s behalf.

"You shouldn’t compare this hotel with the Bald Mountain Lodge," Luboviski said. "The Bald Mountain Lodge isn’t going to be there. It’s a red herring."

Barsotti added that "it’s a big building, but that’s because it’s a big lot."

If the hotel is not built, a big building, though not as tall, will be. It will probably be an entirely residential development, Barsotti said.

In addition to the public hearing, Barsotti presented several last-minute changes to his proposal. He said he would commit to building five affordable housing units at a lot he owns adjacent to the Smith Sport Optics building in Ketchum’s industrial park.

He also said he would investigate the possibility of buying density or height from another Ketchum building—allowed under transfer of development rights regulations. Such a move would preserve a shorter or lower density building.

The city council voted to put off the vote, in part, to weigh those new proposals.

Ski Reports


Mountain Jobs

Formula Sports

Idaho Conservation League



Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.