Comment letter on 300 Main
January 15, 2018
Driggs City Council
PO Box 48
Driggs, ID 83422
Re: 300 Main Development Agreement Extension
Dear Members of the Council:
The 300 Main Development Agreement extension request does not conform to the following three approval criteria from Section 14.13.4 of the Driggs Code:
- CRITERIA #1: Complies with all applicable criteria and standards of the City regulations, conditions of approval established in the previous approval, and the development agreement approved as part of the previous approval. Countless changes have been made to the city’s zoning ordinance (now known as the Land Use Code) since the 300 Main development agreement’s original 2008 approval. For example:
-The development agreement allows buildings up to 55’, where the CX zone caps building height at 45’.
-Fifty feet of wetland buffers are now required.
-Public works standards have changed.
Also, the code clearly intends that a PUD be developed within one year of final approval or within a reasonable timeframe. The lapsed development agreement is now subject to current development standards to which it does not comply.
- CRITERIA #2: Does not increase or create new and potentially substantial direct or indirect impacts on the neighborhood, vicinity of the subdivision or overall community. The analyses completed to assess direct and indirect impacts were completed 11 and 12 years ago. Existing conditions such as traffic counts have changed substantially, and new standards have been adopted to address these conditions. In addition to the quantitative impacts that are inadequately studied, the qualitative effects of impacts voiced by public comment have not been adequately addressed. PUD’s are discretionary approvals that should garner community support in exchange for the flexibility the tool affords.
- CRITERIA #3: Conforms to the Comprehensive Plan and other applicable adopted plans and policies. In 2015, the city adopted a completely new Land Use Code. The purpose and intent of the code is “ for the purpose of guiding development in accordance with the Adopted Comprehensive Plan.” In other words, a proposed development that fails to meet the provision of the code fails to comply with the Comprehensive Plan.
Because this development fails to comply with Section 14.13.4, it should be processed in accordance with Section 14.13.5 Plat Amendment or Vacation – Significant.
We are confident in this interpretation as the applicable verbiage in Section 14.13.4 Plat Amendment or Vacation -Insignificant and 14.13.5 Plat Amendment or Vacation – Significant was drafted by VARD Attorney Anna Trentadue and former Teton County Prosecutor Kathy Spitzer. The intent of the Section 14.13.4 is to allow for the renegotiation of development agreements to better conform to existing codes, policies, and community conditions – not to reward contractual non-performance. Protracted development agreements are inadvisable.
We understand that the developer has invested considerable resources into project design. This is usually true of most large developments – whether they are built or not. We would remind the council that investment in economically nonviable development plans is not a criterion for approval. The recession affected virtually everyone in Teton Valley; we all took our lumps and adjusted to a new economic reality. A panoply of development options is now available to the developer under the city’s new Land Use Code. We find it prudent for the city to embrace its current code and avoid prolonging an infeasible development concept from a bygone era.
In the event the City Council wishes to deny the extension request, we offer the following verbiage for a motion:
“Having found that the application does not comply with the approval criteria set forth in Section 14.13.4 of the Driggs Land Use Code, I move to deny the proposed Plat Amendment – Insignificant. I further move to direct staff to process the development agreement extension request as a Plat Amendment – Significant in accordance with Section 14.13.5 and review the development agreement in accordance with all other provisions of the Driggs Land Use Code.”
Thank you all for your time and consideration in the service of our community.
Shawn W. Hill