July 3, 2018
Teton County Planning & Zoning Commission
150 Courthouse Drive
Driggs, Idaho 83422
RE: Draft short plat ordinance
Thank you for your thoughtful discussion at your June 12th work session. Though we appreciate the technical discussion that took place, let us all take a step back and discuss the original intent of the short plat ordinance – which is to promote farming and ranching.
Specifically, Comprehensive Plan Goal #2 for Agricultural & Rural Heritage states our community must “balance property rights and rural character,” and lists the following subdivision policies (see pp 93 of the pdf) in furtherance of this goal:
- Policy 2.2 Provide a means for transfer of agricultural land to family members.
- Policy 2.3 Incentivize maintaining or creating large parcels
Then, Chapter 6 Implementation goes on to identify “rural character” and “aging farmer demographic” issues, and how it threatens Teton Valley’s agricultural heritage (see pp 126 of the pdf) . The subdivision tools recommended here are:
- Cluster Development Program
- Large Lot Streamlining
- Family Lot Splits or Short Plat
Chapter 6 also recommends the following action items (pp 127 of the pdf):
- Amend subdivision and zoning ordinances to use clustering and conservation easements that are purchased or leased.
- Create/amend ordinances and programs to promote Large Lot Subdivisions.
- Consider amending the Subdivision Ordinance to allow Family Lot Splits and/or a Short Plat process.
It’s clear that Comprehensive Plan recommends fast-track tools that are narrowly tailored to help farming and ranching. Our concern is that the draft ordinance is designed to be fast-track tool that will inadvertently help developers more than farmers. Promoting farming and ranching should be the basis for any short plat process, and that the draft ordinance falls short for two main reasons:
1. The minimum lot size allowed in the draft ordinance is 20 acres in the A-20 zone, and 2.5 acres in the A-2.5 zone. We don’t believe a viable farming operation can exist on anything less than 40 acres – and even that is minimal. Anything less, in our view, is a development project – not a farming project – and should be regulated as such.
2. The purpose of the A-2.5 zone, as defined in Title, is “to designate and provide opportunity for development of residential land use on marginal agricultural land.” We believe that if the short plat is a farming and ranching tool, it should only be available in the zone intended for farming, A-20.
Fortunately, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and can look to our neighboring counties for guidance:
- Teton County, Wyoming Rural PUD’s: Teton County, Wyoming, has a subdivision tool known as the “Rural Planned Residential Development” (Rural PRD). The Rural PUD has been refined over the last 24 years and has largely proven effective. It allows for up to 3 units per 35 acres in exchange for 70% open space (see pp 348 of this pdf). For your reference, we have attached the Teton Vistas Ranch subdivision, a proposed Rural PRD in Alta. From start to finish, entitlements for a Rural PRD takes about six months to process (see pp 411 of this pdf).
- Madison County, Idaho Simple Lot Splits: For the conveyance of farmland and simple lot splits, Madison County may also have a tool worth considering. Section 117-52(e) Area/Density Requirements of the Madison County Zoning Ordinance states “agriculture owners may split off the original home site on any parcel of not less than one-acre from the rest of the farm ground for the purpose of selling the farm and retaining the home. Owner of a farm may sell off any parcel of not less than one-acre of land by attaching the deed restriction giving up the developmental rights on the balance of the 16 acres.” This is allowed in the county’s Agriculture (AG) Zone, which is the zoning for all Madison County properties adjacent to Teton County.
Finally, The Teton County Farm Bureau is sponsoring a tour of farms and ranches in Teton County on August 1, 2018. This will provide a good forum for input from farmers and ranchers in the valley about their needs, and the input gained may lead to a better ordinance. Perhaps this item should be continued until after the event.
Shawn W. Hill
Chapter 5 Goals and Policies
Goal ARH 2: Balance property rights and rural character.
2.3 Incentivize maintaining or creating large parcel
2.2 Provide a means for transfer of agricultural land to family members.
Chapter 6 Issue Statement
Aging farmer demographic / losing agricultural heritage Continued multi-generational agricultural heritage • Subdivision and Zoning Ordinance – Family Lot Splits or Short Plat
Chapter 6 Key Actions
- Consider amending the Subdivision Ordinance to allow Family Lot Splits and/or a Short Plat process. • County Planning 2
Teton County Wyoming
Rural PRD. 3 units per 35 acres, 70% must be kept as open space.
Madison County Idaho
Sec. 117-52. – Agricultural (AG) Zone.
(e) Area/density requirements. (1) Agriculture owners may split off the original home site on any parcel of not less than one-acre from the rest of the farm ground for the purpose of selling the farm and retaining the home. (2) Owner of a farm may sell off any parcel of not less than one-acre of land by attaching the deed restriction giving up the developmental rights on the balance of the 16 acres. Example: A one-acre lot would require the owner give up the development rights on the adjoining 15 acres; two-acre split would require the adjoining 14 acres be places under a developmental restrictions and so on. The parcel with the deed restriction shall state that on the deed and which parcel it is tied to. The two resulting parcels will each be counted as a parcel split. The original larger parcel can do one more such split then any further splits of the parcel will require platting. This is inclusive of the original parcel.