Ketchum City Council members on Friday, Jan. 15, voted to give final approval to an interim, one-year ordinance intended to protect some older and culturally significant buildings in the city core.
The 4-0 unanimous vote in the special meeting endorsed the third reading of the draft ordinance, effectively passing it into city law. City leaders planned to adopt the ordinance before Jan. 17, the expiration date of a 90-day emergency ordinance that banned the demolition of any buildings on a list of historical structures in the city. The emergency ordinance was enacted after concerns were raised at City Hall that some historical properties were targeted for sale or redevelopment.
Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw has called the interim ordinance a “starting point” for the city to develop a program to have some oversight of selected older, historically significant buildings, and eventually to move toward a more detailed permanent ordinance.
The ordinance establishes a list of 26 properties as historically significant and qualified for special city review under the law; creates an application process, review process and review criteria for proposed exterior alterations or demolition of buildings on the list; forms a five-member Historic Preservation Commission to govern the review processes; and sets maintenance standards for buildings on the list.
The city intends for members of the new Historic Preservation Commission to review and assess the list of structures in their first 90 days of work. The panel will have the authority to add or subtract properties from the list, which will likely evolve over time. The list was created with the assistance of consulting company Logan Simpson, which has offices across the West.
The initial list includes 26 properties in the downtown area. The list started at 26 for the first reading of the ordinance, was reduced to six, and then restored to 26. Some high-profile buildings on the list include: 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 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.
“This is the initial assessment,” Planning & Building Director Suzanne Frick said.
Councilman Michael David said he had noticed a “misperception” among citizens that the ordinance will inevitably save buildings—when, in fact, it will establish review processes for some historical buildings when certain types of actions are planned, such as a remodel or demolition.
During the span of the one-year ordinance, city officials plan to write a more detailed, in-depth permanent ordinance designed to protect historical structures, in part through offering incentives to owners of the properties.
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, which covers the downtown area.
“All this does is establish a process that the application goes through,” Bradshaw said. “It’s not saying it’s protected in perpetuity.”