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


Elkhorn Springs
plan inches ahead

City to review public access to golf course

"My observation is that the last few meetings you’ve been treading a lot of water. I urge you to let this development go on."

PEGGY TIERNEY, Sun Valley resident

Express Staff Writer

A proposed master plan to redevelop the 11-acre core of Elkhorn Village with a mixture of residential, recreational and commercial structures is inching forward, despite getting caught in a whirlwind of debate among Sun Valley Planning and Zoning commissioners.

In a presentation Tuesday, March 9, of a set of revised plans for a proposed new clubhouse for the Elkhorn Golf Club, CG-Elkhorn planner Doug Clemens discusses his decision to move the structure closer to Elkhorn Village. Express photo by Willy Cook

In their third look Tuesday, March 9, at a set of proposals put forth by development group CG-Elkhorn, P&Z members expressed general support for plans that include 140 residential units and a new clubhouse for the Elkhorn Golf Club.

However, commissioners ultimately determined that no votes could be cast on a set of three associated CG-Elkhorn applications until the details of the proposals are more closely examined.

The roundabout deliberations over the proposals caused frustration among some members of the public.

"My observation is that the last few meetings you’ve been treading a lot of water," said Sun Valley resident Peggy Tierney. "I urge you to let this development go on."

At issue is a proposed master plan submitted by CG-Elkhorn to develop 128 market-rate condominiums, 12 community-housing units, two commercial buildings and a sales office on the meandering site of the defunct Elkhorn Resort. The project is called Elkhorn Springs.

CG-Elkhorn has owned approximately 11 acres of commercial-zoned property in the village, as well as the Elkhorn golf course, since late 2001.

To commence the phased Elkhorn Springs project, the development group on Feb. 10 formally requested city permission to build and operate an approximately 15,000-square-foot golf clubhouse on the eastern side of the village.

The clubhouse is proposed to include a restaurant, lounge, pro shop and various administrative facilities, all designed to serve members and guests of a newly privatized Elkhorn Golf Club.

Led by acting Chairman Nils Ribi, center-left, members of the Sun Valley Planning and Zoning Commission review a set of improvements and modifications being made to the Elkhorn Golf Course. Express photo by Willy Cook

Because the city does not have an established process to review and approve master development plans, CG-Elkhorn submitted its conceptual plan with a request that it be endorsed as a condition of approval for the proposed clubhouse.

Commissioners have expressed support for the clubhouse project but have declined to approve it without further examination and discussion of the master plan.

P&Z commissioners technically could not approve the proposed clubhouse Tuesday because CG-Elkhorn planners had not formally submitted drafts of a revised plan to shift the structure 30 feet west of its originally proposed location. The shift was proposed to move the building out of the direct view of residents of the Summit condominium complex.

In addition, some members of the P&Z said they are reluctant to approve the clubhouse and master plan without first solidifying a plan to ensure the public will have an acceptable level of access to the Elkhorn Golf Club’s 18-hole course.

"I find myself just fundamentally wanting to oppose this ‘Private Idaho’ concept for this golf course," said Commissioner John Gaeddert.

David Hennessy, a Ketchum-based partner in CG-Elkhorn, said the development group plans to guarantee limited public access to the course. Hennessy noted that he had issued to Mayor Jon Thorson a proposal for the public to gain access to the golf course but declined to discuss the details of the proposal with the P&Z.

"We have presented a proposal to the mayor but have not heard back yet," Hennessy said, adding that an immediate discussion of the access plan would effectively force the developers to "negotiate with ourselves."

Early in the proceedings, Commissioner Virginia Egger said she also wants to see details on what golf-course rights the public will have.

"It’s hard for me to make a decision on a clubhouse not knowing whether it’s going to serve public or private needs," Egger said.

After a long discussion of whether they should seek to approve the clubhouse without deliberating at length over the master plan, commissioners ultimately voted to conduct a March 23 public hearing on the CG-Elkhorn plans.

Commissioners also informally agreed to strive for casting a decisive vote at their March 23 meeting on the clubhouse proposal.


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