The Blaine County Commissioners voted 2-1 to deny Camp Rainbow Gold's appeal to build a camp 12 miles southeast of Ketchum.
The vote upholds a decision made by Planning and Zoning in April denying the nonprofit’s request for a conditional use permit to start building a permanent retreat facility.
"We were disappointed and saddened by the decision, however we're strong and this has not broken us and the need for a forever home has not gone away," said Camp Rainbow Gold executive director Elizabeth Lizberg.
The nonprofit holds summer camps for children and families dealing with cancer at a private campsite they lease. Over the years the program has grown. Camp Rainbow Gold decided it was time to build their own facility to accommodate more families.
"The need is great,” Lizberg said. “We currently turn away 30 siblings every year for our sibling camp and both of our family camps are at maximum capacity and we have to turn away anywhere from 10 to 15 for each of those camps as well."
The plan was to build a retreat on 260 acres of land with 29 buildings that could accommodate 200 people. The location was in Triumph, a remote and rural part of the county southeast of Ketchum, which raised concerns for people who live there. Concerns about traffic, noise and safety.
"The project was simply too large,” said Fritz Haemmerle, the attorney representing concerned citizens. ”That canyon, that far, this was simply too many people. You know, we've had a lot of fires up here historically."
Those opposed to Camp Rainbow Gold building in the proposed location said they support the nonprofit and hope they stay in the community. They just would like to see it in a different spot.
"Everyone in Blaine County supports Camp Rainbow Gold, it's a worthy cause, nobody denies that, but there were a lot of supporters of Camp Rainbow Gold that adamantly believed this was not the right place,” Haemmerle said.