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Driggs P&Z considers the Huntsman Springs replat and annexation proposals.

First Hearing: Huntsman Springs ‘City Walk’

Please note: This meeting report covers the first two Driggs public hearings which were both heard on the evening of April 9, 2014. This is a very complicated land use proposal with many moving parts that are contingent on each other. There will be several hearings in the upcoming months to consider each specific request by Huntsman, including:

  • Annexation into Driggs
  • Re-platting to place residential lots over park lands and creation of a private greenway space within Huntsman Springs
  • The park lands swap
  • Adding additional commercial resort uses in the vicinity of the clubhouse and fitness center at the north end (sketch plans yet to come)
  • A 64-foot height variance for the proposed hotel lobby.

Background on the park land swap:

Huntsman_Replat_ComparisonsHuntsman Springs is proposing to re-plat the residential portion of their development inside the city limits known as the “City Walk”. (Click on image at right) Huntsman is also proposing commercial resort uses in the vicinity of the club house and fitness center at the north end. The proposal involves re-locating the 3 city-owned public parks (totaling 3.35 acres) inside the development to an alternative off-site location.

Huntsman Springs is proposing to swap these parks for 10-acres of land along Bates road, west of the electric transfer station, beyond city limits.  (Click on image below) Huntsman Springs owns a total of 108 acres in this immediate area. Because the property falls within the Teton County priority wetlands and Woods Creek Fen overlays, a wetlands delineation is currently being done on the property to determine what parts are developable.
Proposed_ParkExchangeOne of the key issues here in negotiating a land exchange of public property, is that Idaho Code §50-1403 requires the city to make a finding that the properties are of equal value. Open questions remain about the value of this property, including whether more land or improvements must be included in the trade in order for the properties to be of equal value, whether the property can be developed, and if so, what type of recreation development would be most beneficial to the city of Driggs.

Huntsman Representative from Panorama International:

Panorama International is a consulting company specializing in international golf course and club management. This is their first in-country project in 20 years; the company got their start with resort development in Belize. At this hearing, Panorama debuted their plans for the commercial/resort portion of Huntsman Springs to be located at the north end of their development:

  • A 5 star hotel and freestanding villas
  • luxury retail and two restaurants
  • an outdoor ice rink
  • banquet facilities
  • spa (maybe)
  • They plan to divert more water from Teton Creek for new water features
  • At a future hearing, they will also be requesting a 64-foot height variance for the hotel lobby

The Driggs city staff opinion:

Driggs City Planner Ashley Kohler emphasized that the park land swap was not  within the purview of P&Z, but any decisions on the re-plat proposal would be contingent on City Council approval of swap. She then outlined the staff’s recommendations for P&Z:

  • Huntsman Springs’ private pathways should connect to the Driggs public paths.>
  • They should carefully consider the proposed 5-foot setbacks; they may be too small for snow storage.
  • P&Z should require development to meet new Driggs lighting ordinance.
  • P&Z should evaluate the appropriateness of Harper Avenue for connection to town.

Public Comment:

3 members of the public spoke. They expressed frustration that the proposed central greenway space in the development would be closed to the public.

P&Z Deliberation:

The P&Z discussed how to best avoid creation of a solid “wall of houses” five feet apart that would effectively fence off the City Walk from Driggs. Commissioner Love moved to require that no more than three houses in a row could have garages facing Driggs; the rest of the P&Z approved this change.  There was extensive discussion about square footage, lot size, footprints, and cost.  P&Z would like to require some kind of variability in housing size and housing cost, but there is a lot of confusion over their authority to require these changes.

The vote:

The P&Z voted unanimously to approve preliminary City Walk replat and with conditions outlined by the staff, including the garage amendment.

Second Hearing: The Huntsman Annexation

This was the hearing to consider annexing the remainder of  Huntsman Springs into the City of Driggs.

Huntsman Representative from Panorama: Huntsman_Proposed_Annexation Huntmans_Proposed_Annexation

 

Huntsman will be requesting several commercial use exemptions at a future hearing. However because Driggs ordinances require that accessory commercial uses can only impact 5% of the land area within a Planned Unit Development, Huntsman therefore needs to annex additional acreage into Driggs to reach this 5% threshold. Huntsman also wants to annex more property so they can re-position their commercial uses in the vicinity of the clubhouse and fitness center at the north end.

City Staff’s opinion

  • Huntsman’s proposed annexation splits cul-de-sacs, and could be difficult for road management and taxation.
  • The staff recommends annexing everything now, or in the alternative, using a fixed timeline for gradual annexation.

Huntsman Representative:

Huntsman does not want to annex any more acres than they need to reach the 5% threshold for their proposed accessory commercial uses.

Public Comment:

Teton County Planner Jason Boal recommended annexing the entire development so that the impact fees from the development would go to city improvements, where impacts will be concentrated.

Deliberation: 

The P&Z agreed with staff that overall, the annexation makes sense, and Huntsman should be annexed now before homes are built. P&Z votes to support the full annexation whereby Huntsman would be annexed in phases.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

On Tuesday May 6th, the Driggs City Council will hold two hearings. At 7:30pm the City Council will hold a hearing on the City Walk re-plat proposal. Then, at 8:30pm, they will hold a hearing on the annexation proposal.

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