Sunday, April 21, 2019
A Smelter in the Light Industrial District?
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Saturday, January 26, 2019
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

The note at the entrance was reputedly written by a Ketchum resident in 2040.

“This should’ve been done 20 years ago,--it’s too late to change now.”

Nothing stipulated what “this” was. But it was the introduction to the City of Ketchum’s latest community conversation—this one trying to solicit public comment on the future of Ketchum’s light industrial district.

 
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More than 140 people walked through presentations set up at the Limelight Hotel, as they learned what changes are being proposed, including one that would allow buildings to be taller.

The topography in the light industrial district allows for greater heights without blocking views of the mountains, the display noted.

Participants also had a chance to talk with city representatives about the City Council’s decision this week to move forward with an agreement to trade an 11,000-square-foot lot downtown for a 43,000-square-foot parcel in the light industrial zone that could be used for affordable housing.

The property north of the Sun Valley Community School dormitory, which also involves $3 million purchase fee, could be the site of an 80-unit apartment complex.

 
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Participants were asked whether they wanted a high-end resort retirement community or a living community with sustainable economy and diverse demographic. The display noted that Ketchum had 79 long term rentals available during the past year and 300 short-term rentals.

Asked what should be in the light industrial area, people wrote: vocational education workshops with teacher housing above and a Soho artist’s type colony. One person wrote: A smelter.

What do we need to preserve there?  One person wrote: An attractive office for the next Smith or Scotts of the world. Others wrote: auto repair, lumber yard, construction rental, and cutting edge theater like The Spot.

“Why bother?” wrote one person. “It’s cheaper down south.”

 
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“But I don’t want to drive south to get a can of paint,” wrote another.

Architect Susan Scovell said she wants to keep the light industrial businesses there for that reason, noting that she can’t stand the idea of driving to Twin Falls to shop.

“But I think housing can work there, too,” she added.

Architect Carolyn Wicklund came to the noon open house, then returned later that evening after she’d had a chance to think about the questions that had been asked.

“I think the light industrial area is the wrong place for affordable housing,” she said. “But, if you do put it there, you’ve got to have regulations in place to keep the prices from being raised so that it’s not affordable, anymore. I’ve seen that happen. I also think we need to end in-lieu payments.”

Architect Dale Bates offered a different point of view.

“Housing can happen without it conflicting with the light industrial usage,” he said. “The reason it hasn’t happened is that it doesn’t make economic sense. If we raise the heights, it could make sense.”

Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw said he was thankful for those who attended. Next time, he said, he would like to see the city provide pictures of projects elsewhere to give people a better idea what different options might look like.

“I think that will really help people,” he said.

 

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