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Advocating for Fair and Representative Govt.

**NEWS ALERT**

A small step forward for diversity. A big step back for representative government.

What Happened?  On Monday, the Board of County Commissioners went into executive session and appointed four seats to the Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z).  They had received 11 applications: four women and seven men.  Looking at the entire pool of applicants, there were some folks from fairly diverse backgrounds. (i.e., city residents, large and small farmers, city business owners, etc.)  As outlined in our recent OpEd article, we encouraged the Board of County Commissioners to not just use these appointments to appoint “large landowners” (their term, not ours) or people who support one ideology, but to instead focus on diverse and fair representation from the entire community.

So who did they appoint?

The Commissioners appointed the three men and one woman onto P&Z, expanding the board up to nine members:

  • Bruce Arnold (It should be noted that Mr. Arnold was reappointed to his P&Z seat as the No. #1 recommended appointee by P&Z Chairman Dave Hensel who had submitted his recommendations to the County Commissioners for consideration.)
  • Marlene Robson
  • David Breckenridge
  • Pete Moyer

Do these appointments increase diversity on P&Z?

The answer is, sort of. Appointing a female farmer definitely filled an un-represented niche.  However, P&Z Chairman Hensel’s recommendation to appoint Georgie Stanley, a female owner of an organic farm in the un-represented South-end of the valley was not recognized by the County Commissioners.

(Please see the following paragraph discussing the geographical disparity on P&Z.)

Furthermore, no other un-represented and under-represented niches (i.e., Latinos, city residents, city business owners, teachers, real estate professionals, etc.)  were filled by these four appointments.

Do these appointments provide geographical representation to the entire community?

The answer here is, absolutely not.  With this new commission, six of the nine P&Z members are now from the rural North-end of the valley. In fact, all four of these new appointments are from the North-end. There are no Driggs or Tetonia residents on P&Z.  Only one Victor resident serves on this new P&Z, and there are no residents from the Impact Areas surrounding the cities either.

So what happens now?

These nine individuals will now move forward with drafting the new Teton County development code.  To date, it is still unclear if Teton County will ultimately be presented with two development codes, one written by Code Studio (and paid for by the HUD Grant) and one written by “Special Planning Projects” contractor Stephen Loosli. However, as a sign of what may soon be coming, on Sept 4th Mr. Loosli submitted a report to the County Commissioners where he outlined his vision for the new Teton County development code:

  • Mr. Loosli’s report states that in his opinion, the scenic corridor, wetlands, floodplain, hillside protection, and natural resources overlays are not allowed under Idaho law and should be eliminated.  However, Teton County Attorney Kathy Spitzer recently stated her opinion that Mr. Loosli’s opinions on this issue directly conflict with Idaho law.
  • He initially suggests maximum housing densities in the rural county of 60units/100 acres. This is a 300% increase over the highest PUD density currently allowed in the AG 20 (20-acre) zone.
  • He also says his draft of the new code will be presented to the Planning & Zoning Commission by October or November. That’s stunningly fast for such an important undertaking – and with NO public input on this draft to date.

Please look for our follow-up E-Alert that we will send out very soon with more information.

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