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Ketchum, Idaho

The City of Ketchum, population 3,003 (2000), is located in Blain County, 100 miles east of Boise, Idaho. In the 1880s, Ketchum was a mining town. But by 1920, it had morphed into the largest sheep/lamb shipping station in the U.S. Thanks to adjacent Sun Valley Ski Resort, the City is now popular as a vacation and retirement destination. The City is also known for its most famous former resident, Ernest Hemingway.

In 2001, the City adopted TDR provisions allowing density transfers that promote a community benefit within the Community Core District. The Community Core District is intended to promote a pedestrian environment that retains a small-town scale and the character of Ketchum’s history and geography. In this district, baseline density is gross FAR 1.4, meaning 1.4 sf of floor area for each 1.0 sf of lot area. However, FAR 1.75 can be achieved when developers offer any of three Community Benefit Bonus Incentives.

Two of the three incentives pertain to bonus density used at the development site. 1) Under the Community Housing Increase Option, bonus FAR can be earned by developers who permanently restrict at least 40 percent of the bonus floor area for Community Housing Units (meaning affordable housing.) 2) Developers who build hotels can also achieve a 1.75 FAR maximum at the development site.

The third Community Benefit Bonus Incentive allows bonus density to receiving sites within the Community Core District when benefits are provided at a sending site. Transferable Development Rights is allowed under the following two circumstances.

1) For lots or buildings with FAR less than 1.4, the balance of the “by right” (FAR 1.4) may be transferred from this property, thereafter called the Sending Area, to another lot in the Community Core District thereafter called the Receiving Area. The Sending Area must be deed restricted in perpetuity. The Receiving Area cannot exceed FAR 1.74.

2) For lots or buildings providing Community Housing Units, up to 1.75 FAR of the floor area not used on a property may be transferred as long as 40 percent of the transferred floor area is restricted for Community Housing Units.

In September 2005, the Ketchum Planning & Zoning Commission considered preliminary design review of a mixed use development that would require the demolition of two historic homes in the downtown. The developer was encouraged to consider rethinking the project to use TDR to preserve the two historic structures. If this project is redesigned and approved as suggested, it would be constitute the first use of the City’s TDR provisions.