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The Lewis-Lemon General Store building—now home to the Sun Valley Culinary Institute—is on a shortened list of historical sites designated for possible protection in a new ordinance being considered by the Ketchum City Council.

The city of Ketchum is one step closer to enacting a plan to protect some historical and culturally significant buildings in the downtown core.

With some reluctance, City Council members on Monday voted 4-0 to approve the second reading of an interim, one-year ordinance that would lend limited protections to some structures and establish a Historical Preservation Commission to oversee the processes in the plan. Despite some hesitancy about details in the draft law, all council members said they support the overall effort to protect significant pieces of Ketchum’s history.

The draft ordinance would become a city law after three public readings and upon receiving the signature of Mayor Neil Bradshaw. The City Council is scheduled to conduct a special meeting today, Friday, Jan. 15, to consider approval of a third reading of the ordinance. The city is working to have the proposed ordinance approved by the City Council and enacted before Jan. 17, the expiration date of a 90-day emergency ordinance banning the demolition of any buildings on an associated list of historical structures in the city.

City Council members agreed on Monday to make changes to the draft ordinance before voting to move it toward final approval.

The most substantive change was shortening a list of 26 older structures identified as worthy of protection in the ordinance down to seven. Council members agreed upon the amended list of high-profile buildings with an understanding that the Historical Preservation Commission could create a new list—based on established criteria and expertise—after it is empaneled. The move came after some council members expressed concern that the list of 26 structures might have been drafted with insufficient criteria and that some owners might not be aware that their property was on the list.

“I just don’t want to paint ourselves into a corner,” Councilman Michael David said.

The new list to be included in the third reading of the ordinance includes: the circa 1882 Bonning Cabin on Fifth Street, which is owned by the city; the Lewis-Lemon General Store building on Main Street, the headquarters of the Sun Valley Culinary Institute; the Comstock-Clark Mercantile building on Main Street, the site of Enoteca restaurant; the Isaac Lewis First National Bank building on Main Street, now a showroom for the Rocky Mountain Hardware business; the Horace Lewis House on East Avenue, the location of The Elephant’s Perch sports store; the Michel’s Christiania building on Walnut Avenue; and the city’s Forest Service Park complex on the west side of Main Street.

Councilwoman Amanda Breen expressed concern—as she had done previously—about some of the language in the draft ordinance.

“It’s too restrictive and not incentive-based enough,” she said.

Bradshaw advocated strongly for moving the ordinance ahead before the expiration of the emergency ordinance, which was enacted after concerns were raised at City Hall that some historical properties were targeted for redevelopment. He called the interim ordinance a “starting point” for the city to eventually move toward a more-detailed permanent ordinance.

“We need to have that stake in the ground that says, ‘Here’s where we are,’” Bradshaw said.

The primary elements of the draft ordinance include: establishing the list of seven properties as historically significant and qualified for special city review under the law; establishing an application process, review process and review criteria for proposed exterior alterations or demolition of buildings on the list; establishing and appointing members of a five-member Historic Preservation Commission to govern the review processes; and establishing maintenance standards for buildings on the list.

The review processes for the structures identified in the draft ordinance would be conducted in addition to the city’s established review processes for development in the Community Core zoning district.

Citizens can get additional information on the city’s initiative at www.ketchumidaho.org, on the Community Conversations page.

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