Design review of a duplex development at 3020 Warm Spring Road passed approval by the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday night, following two continuations of the application due to requests for design enhancements by commissioners and neighboring property owners.

Property owners to the north of the proposed development voiced concerns over the structure’s “bulk and mass.” Neighbors Jamey and Mark Kern stated in a written letter to the commissioners that the development essentially walls off the north side, “stripped of potential balcony or even a door” that could allow the owners to take in views of deer and elk on the northern hillside “along with the four season landscape beauty” on the north side of the building.

In response to suggestions from neighbors and the commission, lead architect Craig Lawrence redesigned the three-story building to include more undulation on the top floor, moving the upper level in 18 inches in length and width from its previous location and creating more depth to the back, north-facing wall. Even with the changed design, Kern continued to reiterate to commissioners during public comment Monday night that the design of the duplex is about more than a loss of view for him and his wife.

“We want to welcome this project to our neighborhood,” Kern said, asking that the design reflect something that the “heart and soul of Ketchum would approve.”

Following public comment, the commissioners held a lengthy discussion about what parameters they have to follow when deciding on design review approvals—something they are also dealing with in other Ketchum developments, including a mixed-use structure proposed to take a full city block on Main Street. Commission Chairman Neil Morrow asked his fellow commissioners how far design improvements can go to improve a project while not overly delaying developments in the city.

“How far can we push before we’ve made it too much?” Morrow asked, noting that projects tend to get better with each redesign but also create a burden for the developer to spend more time and money making adjustments.

Ultimately, the commission unanimously approved the project, noting that the duplex falls within city code, conforms to the general residential zone design parameters and has been enhanced through redesign by the architect.

Also on Monday, the commissioners heard an appeal for a setback variance on a proposed development at 201 Garnet St.

The commission reached no conclusions, opting to take the 30 days allotted them to consider findings and facts and come to a decision. The project seeks a variance for a 3-foot portion of a house, something the city says will hamper snow removal on the street. According to the city, the space already is too narrow and poses a risk of property damage, which the city is obligated to reimburse.

Attorney Fritz Haemmerle, representing property owner Craig Nalen, said his client would agree to sign a document that would absolve the

city from liability if Nalen’s property is damaged by snow removal.

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