July 5, 2016
Teton County Planning & Zoning Commission
150 Courthouse Drive
Driggs, ID 83422
Re: Mountain Legends Concept Plan
Dear Members of the Commission:
We offer the following comment on the Mountain Legends Concept Plan in the context of the criteria for approval set forth in Section 9-3-2 (B)(4) Consideration of Approval [for Concept Review].
The Mountain Legends Concept Plan does not conform to the Teton County Comprehensive Plan as required by Section 9-3-2 (B)(4)(a). We concur with the Planning & Zoning Staff’s concerns and find that the proposed subdivision does not conform to the 2012 Comprehensive Plan, which we believe is a reaction against the type and scale of development proposed in this Concept Review.
The availability of public services to accommodate the proposed development has not been established as required by Section 9-3-2 (B)(4)(b). Most glaringly, Teton County, Wyoming, the entity responsible for maintaining the development’s primary access – State Line Road – has not contributed to the review of the Mountain Legends application as an official service provider. Over the years, we have attended many public meetings held with the Teton County, Wyoming Board of County Commissioners and Alta residents, and, almost without exception, the inadequacy of State Line Road is the focal point of discussion. The prospect of a 76-unit development has the potential to degrade the quality and safety of State Line Road even further. In addition, the 76-unit subdivision proposes individual wells and septic systems in an area found to have high Nutrient Pathogen levels. Before a development of this scale can be considered, the carrying capacity of the entire groundwater resource must be evaluated. Finally, a white paper published in 2015 by the Teton County Planning & Zoning Department found that virtually any subdivision of any size will likely result in increased costs to Teton County and its taxpayers. A 76-unit development will certainly burden community services.
The conformity of the proposed development with the capital improvements plan is not clear as required by Section 9-3-2 (B)(4)(c). Page 9 of the county’s capital improvement plan does mention an average density factor of 50-80 units per 100 acres, but as the preceding text to this figure indicates, several large assumptions are utilized to establish this number. For example, residential projections assume that many future dwelling units will be second-homes, thereby decreasing overall impact. However, the applicant’s narrative repeatedly touts the housing opportunities purportedly afforded by the development proposal, and thus indicates that a significant portion of the units within the development will likely be permanently occupied –and therefore more impactful – than what is contemplated in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan.
The public financial capability of supporting services for the development has not been established as required by Section 9-3-2 (B)(4)(d). We understand that a fiscal impact analysis will be required upon submittal of the preliminary plat, however, like many other aspects of this development, the Planning & Zoning Commission must seek to understand the initial impact created by the sheer scale of the project before moving forward. We believe this is precisely why this and other considerations are codified at the Concept Review phase. The 2015 Planning & Zoning Department white paper makes clear that any new development will have a significant fiscal impact, and the Planning & Zoning Commission must now consider whether to consider a scale of development that will undoubtedly result in serious fiscal impacts to Teton County taxpayers.
Other health, safety, and general welfare concerns must be addressed as required by Section 9-3-2 (B)(4)(e). We understand that public comment is forthcoming and may be voluminous. The impacts borne by surrounding property owners are substantial and warrant serious consideration.
We conclude that the proposed Concept Plan does not meet these five required criteria and should thus be subject to denial.
Shawn W. Hill