At the Sept. 16 City Council meeting, Ketchum residents were told to trust the system regarding the extraordinary waivers that Planning and Zoning had recommended for the proposed Marriott “boutique” hotel. Fair enough. But what has the system produced so far? City employees produced a report of over 300 pages endorsing the zoning-busting waivers before the first public hearing. The “public notice” regarding the hearing was a small architectural rendering of what the hotel might look like that was published in this paper. It said nothing about the extensive, requested waivers. Then commissioners railroaded the recommendations through at the next public hearing despite extensive requests to slow the process down.

Because of inadequate notice, residents spent their own money to have mailboxes stuffed to inform folks in Ketchum what was happening. Residents created an online petition that has garnered over 1,500 signatures. A physical petition quickly gathered several hundred additional signatures. Over 150 letters—the great majority in opposition—have now been submitted to the city.

Because residents, not the city, had informed other residents, this paper’s poll showed an overwhelming opposition to granting the railroaded waivers. Why has it taken this extraordinary effort to get residents’ voices heard to avoid the gutting of our zoning laws?

Trust the system? OK, fair enough. But someone is going to have to make the system trustworthy first.

John Sahlberg, Ketchum

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