The Ketchum City Council on Monday took its first look at a suite of zoning changes in the light-industrial districts that could mean taller building heights, but did not take a vote.
The council reviewed a draft of an ordinance rewriting the land uses and zoning regulations for the city’s three light-industrial districts, which are just north of the Community Core and west of state Highway 75.
The Planning and Zoning Commission devoted a series of meetings to the rewrites in 2018, and ultimately recommended that the City Council adopt them. The recommendation included a 48-foot building height, which would be a tradeoff for developers to include affordable workforce housing.
Since then, city staff has offered additional changes. In the third light-industrial district, which sits between Lindsay Circle and Saddle Road, and between the Sun Valley Community School dormitory and Saddle Road, the revisions state that it would serve as a “transition” district.
In stating what the district’s purpose is, the revision adds language about accommodating workforce housing. It removes language referring to “offices related to building, maintenance and construction uses.” It states that deed-restricted and market-rate multi-family dwellings are allowed outside of mixed-use buildings. It says “uses in the L.I. 3 are intended to generate traffic from the employers and employees of permitted uses and/or from deed restricted and market rate housing units.”
Also, the changes would allow for council-approved deed-restricted community-housing units on the ground floor of buildings in the L.I. 3. Ground floors in the L.I. have historically been reserved for light-industrial uses, though the Community School received approval from the city to have ground-floor residential units in 2015-16.
Last month, the City Council approved purchase of a $3 million property at 290-298 Northwood Way, intended to be the future home of an affordable-housing development that may contain 80 apartment units. The property is located in the L.I. 3.
The proposed revisions also change how live-work units are permitted. The rewrite states, “Up to 50 percent of any light-industrial building may be devoted to dwelling units, and up to 50 percent of a work/live unit’s gross residential floor area may be devoted to the residential portion of a work/live unit.”
Council members debated on what the changes would mean for the light-industrial districts, but delayed a vote on the ordinance.
At Monday night’s meeting, a resident expressed concern about Councilwoman Courtney Hamilton’s having a possible conflict of interest because her father, Tim, owns a business in the L.I. called Lutz Rental.
Hamilton recused herself from debating on the ordinance. City Attorney Matthew Johnson said he would review the applicable law and offer an opinion on whether that constitutes a conflict of interest.
“I need a little time to double check on this,” Johnson told the council. “I don’t know that he is receiving any specific familial benefit.”
Mayor Neil Bradshaw said the ordinance revisions aim to jolt the development of affordable workforce housing while balancing the need to keep existing L.I. uses in other parts of the districts.
“I think it encourages the right kind of balance,” Bradshaw said.
Former City Councilwoman Anne Corrock spoke out against the proposal.
“I’m concerned with the unintended consequences of what will happen with this,” Corrock said. “There is housing in the L.I. That’s never talked about, ever.”
Sun Valley Board of Realtors Government Affairs Director Bob Crosby applauded the changes, and said he appreciated how staff incorporated the Realtors’ concerns and ideas into the ordinance rewrite.
“There’s always going to be industrial there,” Crosby said. “How badly do we need housing versus how badly do we need industrial there?”
Councilman Michael David said the changes would not drastically alter the L.I. districts, but that he felt comfortable in delaying a vote to allow for more time to consider its ramifications.
“There’s no need to rush this very important decision,” David said.
Councilman Jim Slanetz said he believes the re-write resulted from a well-thought-out process, but voiced concern about L.I. 3 as the chosen location for workforce housing. He said other locations around Ketchum merit consideration, such as by the Lift Tower Lodge at the southern entrance to town. He said ground floors must be light-industrial uses.
“We’re making this our affordable-housing area,” Slanetz said of L.I. 3. “We haven’t necessarily explored other ideas.”
CORRECTION 2/6/2019: This story has been updated to correct a statement by Councilman Michael David.