In recent weeks several readers have called attention to the zoning rule waivers being requested by the proposed Marriott Hotel on the west side of Highway 75 at the gateway to Ketchum. The developer has requested waivers of existing height, setback, density and number-of-stories rules to build a 72-foot-tall hotel. Readers have astutely noted that providing such waivers would be unfair to other developers, create traffic concerns, eliminate scenic views of Baldy, reduce the value of surrounding properties and forever change the small-town character of our beloved downtown.

The City Council must determine whether the benefits to Ketchum overwhelm the many negative impacts of granting such waivers. In making this determination I hope the City Council will also take into account the latest report by Sun Valley Economic Development, which was summarized in an article in the Sept. 11 issue of the Mountain Express. The SVED report concluded that the local economy “isn’t working” for many locals due to our “dramatic tourist cycle,” which is even more pronounced than other resort areas. Granting extraordinary zoning variances to facilitate the building of another 100 hotel rooms in Ketchum will simply amplify our “dramatic tourist cycle” and thus further hurt much of our local workforce.

Based on the SVED report, it would be inappropriate for the City Council to conclude that granting the requested variances will result in significant future economic benefits to the community. The City Council should require the developer to redesign the project to comply with our existing zoning requirements.

Tom Benson, Ketchum

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