The Packsaddle Road Project. It’s approved.
For over 2 years now, Teton County has been wrestling with the Packsaddle Road Project, a new road intended to replace the dodgy collection of substandard lanes and two-tracks currently under county jurisdiction. As you may recall, landowner Jess Horton began constructing the 9-mile “scenic byway” in Summer of 2014, raising concerns about the prospect of new development and impacts to the abundant wildlife in the area. However, Horton maintains that the new road is intended to facilitate 10-12 large, conservation oriented ranches along the roadway (you can see the concept plan here) and to address longstanding trespassing issues. After nearly 18 months of direct negotiations between the Horton’s team (aka Ag Rim/Grandview) and the county, the Board of County Commissioners finally approved the project agreement yesterday, February 28th.
The approved project agreement includes the following provisions:
(for reference, here is the project overview map)
– Ag Rim/Grandview will build several scenic pullouts on along the newly constructed road.
– A 14′ wide trail will be constructed along side the road that will be open to snowmobiles from December 1st to March 31st, and closed to motorized use all other months of the year.
– The county will be allowed to place utilities in the road, however they must be buried.
– Ag Rim/Grandview are to prepare a traffic study and received approval from the Idaho Transportation Department (which has since happened).
– The County will take the lead on negotiating with the BLM to route a portion of the road through BLM property. Ag Rim/Grandview will then revegetate the old road that currently runs through said BLM property. If the BLM does not approve the new road by June 1, 2017, then the Ag Rim/Grandview will route the road around the BLM Properties.
– Ag Rim/Grandview will will revegetate the old, abandoned road to either natural vegetative cover or appropriate ground cover for farming.
-Ag Rim/Grandview will construct a new public parking area at the Packsaddle Lake trailhead, and convey the land under the parking area to Teton County.
– Ag Rim/Grandview will install all traffic signage along the new road compliant with county specifications.
– Ag Rim/Grandview will install or remove cattle guards along the road to control adjacent Forest Service grazing, if needed.
– Teton County is not obligated to plow the new road, however Ag Rim/Grandview and/or future property owners (as well as adjacent property owners) may request plowing services from the county.
– The Teton County Engineer must inspect the new road upon completion, and will only accept the road if the road meets all county standards.
– After acceptance, Teton County will maintain the new road. Ag Rim/Grandview will provide a $50,000 bond to the county for up to one year in the event any deficiencies or weed control issues are discovered.
The county has been reviewing an agreement containing the above-mentioned features since last autumn. During its due diligence, the county discovered that three property owners, the Assantes, the Felgers, and Bainbridges, would lose access if the county abandoned the old Packsaddle Road, specifically the Kay’s Hill segment. This is a big problem, since Idaho law prohibits counties from abandoning roads if property owners become landlocked.
Currently, these properties are accessed along the existing road on Kay’s Hill, which Ag Rim/Grandview are seeking to abandon. Since this discovery, Ag Rim/Grandview, Teton County, and the three property owners have been searching for a solution to this access problem. That solution finally presented itself yesterday: Ag Rim/Grandview committed to negotiate with the three property owners agreeing to provide access through the Assante property, provided that the Assantes and the other two property owners can agree upon a mutual driveway easement between the three, private properties. If these property owners cannot agree to an easement, then the Kay’s Hill portion of the old road will not be abandoned by the county.
With these conditions (and others) in place, the BOCC unanimously approved the project. Ag Rim/Grandview have until November 30, 2019 to complete project amenities and improvements.
Want more information?
Get the backstory by reading our previous e-mail outlining the details of this large road project. All county materials, reports, historical documents, and public comments on the Packsaddle Road project are being posted here and also more documents here.