In 2014, Ketchum’s City Council “excitedly” presented to the public a new comprehensive plan that the Planning and Zoning Commission had worked on for over a year involving 750 people. Today, a City Council with a new mayor and new councilors may end up mocking the plan by rushing approval of a proposed Marriott Hotel at the left-turn corner of River Street and Main with outrageous waivers. While a hotel is acceptable on that site, there’s nothing in the comp plan, or the 2007 Gateway plan for that intersection, that supports Marriott’s current design.
The plans set the following standards, among others: “Building facades should be constructed [along] traditional lot lines.” “Single-design facades in half-block buildings are inappropriate.” “New buildings should respect the architectural traditions of Downtown Ketchum.” “Buildings should consider view corridors and allow abundant light, air and mountain views on Main Street.” “Land use decisions [must] respect the natural characteristics of the land.” “Two stories along the street edge is human scale, four stories is not.” “Keep Trail Creek visible to pedestrians.”
These quotes emphasize one theme: Preserve Ketchum’s small mountain-town character, physical beauty and sense of authentic community.
Mayor Bradshaw seems to support these values. The Mountain Express has quoted his desire that the project “maintain the charm and character of Ketchum.” The developer says it “understands” the public’s investment in preserving Ketchum and will “design a hotel that blends seamlessly with Ketchum’s cultural and geographical landscape.”
So why the waivers? Just stick to the original P&Z requirements for that lot! Drop the hypocrisy. The city needs to find other sources of income than short-term construction jobs and hotel property taxes. Plus, imagine that Gateway entrance in 2025 when the Idaho Transportation Department widens Ketchum’s entry to four lanes. People should say no to urbanization at the Sept. 16, 4 p.m. City Council meeting.
Jima Rice, Blaine County