The city of Sun Valley is in the process of slightly loosening its restrictions on hillside development.

On Thursday, the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval of a set of amendments to city code, forwarding them to the City Council for final consideration.

Under current code, no structure may be built on grade of over 25% slope, except those on properties in the area southeast of the intersection of Sun Valley and Dollar roads. That area is exempted “because the steep slopes that comprise the ravine of Trail Creek do not present visual concerns or physical dominance on the city's landscape.” Property owners in other areas can apply for a variance to the hillside limit when strict enforcement of the provision would substantially prohibit use of the property.

The proposed amendments would allow construction or other site disturbance on slopes steeper than 25% without obtaining a variance in certain circumstances, as long as “the development has been designed in a manner that will not create a visual concern or physical dominance that would unreasonably negatively impact views.”

Those circumstances include:

• Areas of steep slope within a platted building envelope or small isolated areas outside the building envelope.

• The toe of substantial areas of steep slope when such encroachment is reasonably unavoidable due to site constraints.

• Areas of steep slope needed to build a driveway.

According to a June 11 report to the City Council from Community Development Director Brittany Skelton, the city contacted 42 local landscape architects, architects, surveyors and engineers for feedback on the proposed amendments. Three public comments were submitted, all in support of the amendments.

The council is expected to consider the proposed amendments on Aug. 5.

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