Ketchum needs housing desperately, but the current proposal to rezone the light-industrial area is fatally flawed and should not be passed. It ignores basic economics and is the equivalent of a farmer eating his seed corn. You get one satisfying meal but sacrifice your viability forever.
I say this because the proposed rezoning allows much larger buildings but makes no provision to preserve existing LI uses that depend on open space. Without those provisions, there will be vital businesses in our LI zones that are subject to higher land valuations, and it is inevitable that those businesses will eventually leave.
The light-industrial area might look scruffy and underutilized, but that’s by design. LI zoning is intended to create and preserve a place where the unglamorous support businesses of a town can exist. You might not use those businesses personally, but our economic viability depends on them.
I’ve watched for decades as sequential administrations have thought they could get something for free by rezoning the LI. Up until now, each administration has looked, considered it carefully and realized the error of their thinking. The current mayor and council need to realize this as well. They have laudable ambitions regarding housing, but the LI rezone is the wrong way to achieve those ambitions.
Most troubling is that there has been no economic analysis done to determine what the effect of the rezone might be. It seems obvious that a change with such huge implications for our economy should be carefully considered on the basis of good data, yet none have been provided here. Housing is vital to our community, but the LI businesses are as well. Unless the current administration can make a reasoned argument for the rezone backed by thorough economic analysis, they should not proceed with it.
Lee Chubb, Ketchum