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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, March 10, 2004


‘Sun Valley
has bright future’

Council president says
land-use issues loom large

Express Staff Writer

Ann Agnew

Sun Valley City Council President Ann Agnew moved to Sun Valley in 1996 with her husband Jim Agnew, a retired advertising executive. She was elected to a seat on the council in 2001. An architect at Boss & Agnew Architects in Ketchum, she lived previously in Los Angeles and New York City. She has served on the St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center Community Board since its inception, in 2000.

Sun Valley City Council President Ann Agnew said this week that she believes the city is at a critical juncture in shaping its future.

Agnew said the city in the next four years will be faced with making a series of land-use decisions that could ultimately determine how the resort community is developed over the next five decades.

Ann Agnew, president of the Sun Valley City Council, on Monday discussed major issues facing the city. Express photo by Willy Cook

Agnew, 64, took the reins as council president in January. In an interview with the Idaho Mountain Express Monday, March 8, Agnew said she will encourage the four members of the legislative panel to cooperate with the city’s new mayor, Jon Thorson, to ensure the city properly plans for an anticipated steady stream of development applications.

"We’re all going to work really hard to make this city successful," she said. "We’re determined to go forward."

Without question, Sun Valley is in a unique position to determine its future.

Sun Valley Co., which owns approximately 2,600 acres of land in and around the resort town, is preparing to ask the city to endorse a 50-year master plan for all of its property holdings. At the same time, the city is updating its comprehensive plan to more effectively guide land-use decisions and establish a vision for the city that blends with the Sun Valley plan.

Thorson, the City Council and the Sun Valley Planning and Zoning Commission will all have roles in negotiating with Sun Valley Co. to agree on the elements of the company’s 50-year master plan.


Preservation of open spaces eyed

"This is our chance," Agnew said.

The councilwoman said she believes the city should ultimately review all of its existing zoning and determine if any changes should be pursued.

"In the case of Sun Valley Company, this could involve determining if density trades, or other negotiations, could open up open-space corridors," she noted.

One area that could be critical to the negotiations is Penny Hill, Agnew said, a prized, highly visible open-space area near Sun Valley Village that is currently zoned for development of multi-family residential buildings.

"I just hope we can keep (Sun Valley Company owner) Earl Holding around and Disney doesn’t take over," Agnew said, clearly appreciative of the company’s slow pace of land development.

Although Agnew pledged support for Thorson’s competitor, Latham Williams, in the November 2003 mayoral election, she said she will cooperate with Thorson to protect the interests of the city.

"My goal is to make sure there is communication," she said.

Agnew has been a member of the Sun Valley City Council since 2002, after she narrowly defeated incumbent Councilwoman Linda O’Shea in the November 2001 city election. O’Shea is married to Thorson and now uses the mayor’s last name.

Williams, the former council president who was often praised by his colleagues for his leadership, opted to run for mayor instead of seeking re-election.


P&Z can do its job

In assessing the city’s processing in recent years of several high-profile development applications, three of which resulted in lawsuits, Agnew said she believes the city has acted fairly.

"I think Triumph Springs was a triumph," she said, referring to progress the city has made in defeating a $10 million lawsuit challenging its decision to not allow a new Triumph Springs subdivision on a hillside north of Lane Ranch.

"I think the new P&Z is great," she added, offering support for a commission that includes three new members appointed by Thorson in January.

Agnew said observing the skills of the city’s employees leaves her confident that the administration of city affairs and management of the city budget will not require day-to-day scrutiny.

As for the city’s much-debated plan to use its five-acre open-space parcel along Sun Valley Road for occasional short-term events and the display of artistic sculptures, Agnew said she is satisfied.

"I would like to see if it works as an unstructured park, perhaps with just a few picnic tables."

Agnew said city-funded improvements to the lawn covering the site should ultimately make the public parcel more "user friendly" during the coming summer.


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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.