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For the week of June 4 - 10, 2003


Ketchum Council OKs riverside subdivision

Access to Big Wood River debated

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum City Council members Monday, June 2, unanimously issued preliminary plat approval to a proposed new subdivision in West Ketchum, after a long debate over how the city should ensure public access to the Big Wood River.

With Councilman Maurice Charlat absent, the panel voted 3-0 to advance a plan by John and Karin Davies to create six residential lots from two parcels that cover approximately five acres in land area. The two parcels at issue are located at 718 Wood River Drive and 901 Rocking Horse Road.

Called Rocking Ranch #4, the subdivision calls for a private road, called Wood River Drive North, designed to access five of the six proposed lots.

Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commissioners granted conditional preliminary plat approval for the subdivision last Tuesday.

Council members Monday debated with city staff whether the subdivision developers ought to be required to provide public access through the area to the Big Wood River.

City Attorney Margaret Simms noted that the land area borders on "sensitive" riparian lands owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

Two neighbors of the subdivision testified that an existing public access route to the river—located north of the proposed subdivision—is already overused and is leading to degradation of the riverbank.

Council members ultimately determined that the subdivision should provide a private, 10-foot-wide river-access easement for its local landowners, but should not be required to include public access.

Ketchum resident Mickey Garcia said private roads essentially create "de facto gated neighborhoods," which are discouraged in the city’s comprehensive plan.



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