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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of August 20 - 26, 2003


Sun Valley mandates affordable housing

Council adopts changes
to commercial zoning

Express Staff Writer

In a bold legislative move, Sun Valley City Council members Thursday, Aug. 14, formally adopted a sweeping set of changes to the city zoning code, one of which will mandate the construction of affordable housing as a part of some new developments.

With only a handful of residents looking on, the panel voted 4-0 to approve a new city ordinance amending the regulations that govern the city’s Commercial Center zoning district.

In broad terms, the amendments will require that affordable housing and commercial space be developed as part of new projects in the city’s two commercial-zoned village centers. The CC district comprises approximately 85 acres of land in Sun Valley Village and central Elkhorn Village.

The changes approved by the council will require that a minimum of 5 percent of the gross floor area of new hotel and residential projects in the district be developed as deed-restricted community housing—affordable housing units that would have to be approved by the city.

As an alternative, the new regulations provide for developers to build 4 percent of the total floor area of the project as on-site community housing and 2 percent as off-site community housing.

The amendments also require that developments in the district must dedicate a minimum of 3 percent of the gross floor area of each project—except for parking structures—to commercial space for permitted business.

Addressing concerns that new commercial space in Elkhorn Village might go unused, Sun Valley Fire Chief Jeff Carnes—who once owned a business in Elkhorn—said he believes the village can become a viable commercial center. "If you have a good product at a good price, you’re going to have customers," he told the council.

In addition, the new ordinance provides density bonuses to developers who build 15 percent of the project floor area as community housing. An additional density bonus is provided for the construction of so-called compact dwelling units—units comprising 1,200 square feet or less of interior living space.

An existing 64-foot height limit for buildings in the CC district was not altered by the city.

The city’s review of the CC zoning district was initiated last year. Council members last December enabled a 120-day moratorium on new applications for development projects in Elkhorn Village and Sun Valley Village.

The moratorium proposal was put forth by city staff 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.

A second 120-day moratorium was passed in April and expired on Saturday, Aug. 16, just two days after the new ordinance was adopted.

The proceedings to develop the proposed amendments were conducted with an abundance of comments from representatives of development partnership CG-Elkhorn, which is preparing a plan to redevelop 11 acres of land that once included Elkhorn Resort. The closure of the moratorium has opened the door for CG-Elkhorn to submit an application to redevelop the now-vacant site.

Representatives from Sun Valley Co., which owns the majority of the land in the CC zoning district, did not comment publicly during numerous meetings on the proposed amendments.

Sun Valley Co. general manager Wally Huffman announced last Wednesday that the company in September will present a 50-year master plan of its property holdings in Sun Valley and Ketchum. Huffman has said the plan will likely include a new hotel in Sun Valley Village.



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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.