Comment letter on Powers Excavation Inc. Conditional Use Permit
August 9, 2016
Teton County Planning & Zoning Commission
150 Courthouse Drive
Driggs, ID 83422
Re: Corner Fox, LLC Conditional Use Permit
Dear Members of the Commission:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this permit application. Code enforcement in Teton County has often been spotty and inconsistent, and Corner Fox, LLC has existed in somewhat of a regulatory limbo due to a lack of enforcement over the years. It appears that the county has made progress in this regard, which is encouraging. However, in considering the application at hand, the Conditional Use Permit must be evaluated on its merits, specifically the approval criteria set forth in Title 8.
We turn your attention now to said approval criteria set forth in Section 8-6-1 (B)(7):
a. The location of the proposed use is compatible to other uses in the general neighborhood. The current property is bounded by undeveloped M-1 zoning to the north, and surrounded by /RR-2.5 zoning to the south and east. In Title 8, the purpose of the A/RR-2.5 district is “to designate and provide opportunity for development of residential land use on marginal agricultural land,” while the intent of this zoning district is expressed as “small increment agriculture or rural residential activities [as] the primary use of the land.” It seems that the proposed use is of a scale and intensity that is generally incompatible with surrounding agricultural and rural residential units due to the inherent noise, glare, traffic, odor, dust, and visual impacts to the surrounding neighborhood. However, in assessing compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood, public comment is paramount, and we recommend that the P&Z Commission seriously consider any public comment from neighbors and the public at large.
b. The proposed use will not place undue burden on existing public services and facilities in the vicinity. The public services most impacted by the proposed use is likely 5000 S, a recently resurfaced county road. It is difficult to assess the burden on the road without a traffic study, so, again, public comment will be important here. We will note, however, that properties in the A/RR-2.5 zoning district are assessed at a much lower rate than those in commercial or industrial zoning districts, presumably because the impacts to public services are greater.
c. The site is large enough to accommodate the proposed use and other features as required by this title. The site area appears to be over 14 acres, which appears to be sufficient for the proposed use.
d. The proposed use is in compliance with and supports the goals, policies, and objectives of the comprehensive plan. We find this standard to the most problematic. The Preferred Land Use Map or “PLUM” in the Comprehensive Plan clearly identifies this area as an Agricultural Rural Neighborhood. Moreover, the Policy and Key Action sections of the plan seek to incentivize existing business park locations and to reduce reliance on Conditional Use Permits to regulate land use. In addition, the business parks in our cities remain vacant or near-vacant because of permissive permitting practices in the county, which many feel sap the development energy necessary to fuel the highly coveted infill development vigorously supported in the Comprehensive Plan. Simply put, the proposed use in this particular location does not conform to the Comprehensive Plan.
After considering the four approval standards necessary to approve this Conditional Use Permit application, we very regrettably cannot support this permit application.
Thank you for your time and consideration in the service of our community.
Shawn W. Hill