local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 previous edition

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 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 © 2003 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. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Hailey declares moratorium on large commercial projects

Target of 180 day stop is ‘box stores’

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council voted in favor of an emergency moratorium on large commercial projects Monday, March, 22. The moratorium, which is intended to give the city time to fix loopholes in the city’s zoning ordinance, will last for a maximum of 182 days.

Current rules allow construction of a separate, but associated large retail or wholesale buildings that would resemble businesses often referred to as box stores, like Wal-Mart or The Home Depot. Revision of the zoning ordinance would prevent circumvention of the intent of bulk building limitations.

The call for a moratorium was precipitated by a telephone inquiry from a Boise attorney to Hailey City Planner Kathy Grotto. The Boise attorney was asking about "what-if" scenarios, Grotto said.

"It became obvious he was looking for certain loopholes," she said. "It put up a lot of red flags for me."

The city’s building size limitations prevent the construction of large box stores. The largest allowable structure in commercial zones is limited to a total bulk of 36,000 square feet in transitional, limited business and business zones and 25,000 square feet in light industrial and service commercial industrial zones.

"We are worried large retailers will circumvent the intent (of the bulk building limitations) by other uses," Grotto said.

The issue concerns box store merchants that might put services under one roof in one community and then come to Hailey and try to house the same services in two or more neighboring buildings.

"Staff feels these types of businesses would have a negative impact on local business owners," Grotto said. "(We need the) 180 days so we can revise the language and close these loopholes."

A year ago the city took action to make its zoning ordinances more specific after The Home Depot inquired whether the company could set up business in two separate 36,000 square foot buildings. The city recognized a loophole and amended the commercial zoning ordinance by stipulating that separate retail spaces controlled by the same entity within 800 feet of each other would not be allowed.

"The aggregate can’t exceed 36,000 square feet," Grotto said.

The latest round of questioning from the outside identified another loophole the city is now trying to close during the new moratorium. Currently size limits do not apply to wholesale and some other business uses.

The latest question is whether a single entity could have one building for retail space and one for wholesale, inventory storage or a showroom.

Grotto said a second building, on paper, could be reserved for a wholesale business selling only to contractors, for example. In reality, anyone could shop there.

"We’ll be working on (the ordinance) and trying to craft it very carefully so it will contain enough language to truly protect our local merchants that would be impacted (by large chain stores)," Grotto said.

Executive Director of Citizens for Smart Growth Christopher Simms spoke in support of the staff comments, as did members of the City Council.

"I’m really concerned, and I agree 100 percent with staff," Hailey City Councilman Rick Davis said.

Grotto explained that the moratorium does not apply to all commercial development.

"The moratorium will only apply to a mix of retail and non-retail and associated types of uses," she said.


City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


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.