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Comments on the 2016 Re-plat proposal for River Rim Ranch

May 3, 2016

Teton County Planning & Zoning Commission

150 Courthouse Drive

Driggs, ID 83422

Re: 2016 River Rim Ranch PUD Amendment

Dear Commissioners:

Over the last 12 years, our organization has consistently tracked the evolution of this Planned Unit Development (PUD) and its numerous amendments since Division 1 was first platted in 2004. As this Commission knows very well, processing all of these amendments has placed an enormous administrative burden on Teton County over the years. There is no obligation to recommend approval here; the applicants must first provide a compelling case as to why a particular amendment provides a public benefit to the citizens of Teton County.

The Planning & Zoning Administrator’s (PZA’s) report provides a thorough analysis of the issues at stake; we concur and support the numerous issues raised therein. Furthermore, any amendment to this PUD requires the review of the entire PUD.  This is clearly established by the plain language of the current Development Agreement, and the applicant has enjoyed a significant increase in development potential by virtue of River Rim Ranch being a “planned community PUD” pursuant Section 9-5-3 of the Teton County Code.  As such, any changes proposed to the PUD must be considered in the context of the entire PUD, and must fulfill the purpose and intent of the PUD ordinance.  Specifically, any change to the PUD must conform to the purpose and intent established in Sections 9-5-1-B and 9-7-1-B-1.  In other words, any amendment to a PUD must reduce its intrusion into sensitive natural areas and result in a more compact development footprint.

Issue #1: Protection of South Canyon

The applicant has requested a significant increase in density for Phase 1 while retaining established density in other phases, particularly in the highly sensitive Phase 6 (South Canyon) of the development. This 55-unit phase is a tendril of development that extends to the rim of Teton River Canyon, one of the most scenic and wildlife-rich areas of Teton County.  An offset to the density/intensity of the River Rim Ranch through the elimination or substantial redesign of South Canyon phase should be seriously considered.

Issue #2:  Expansion of incidental uses along Highway 33

Furthermore, the applicant is requesting an increase in the number of commercial uses in the West Rim Village area, including a “gift shop,” “coffee shop,” and “convenience store.”  Since the West Rim Village is located on Highway 33, the introduction of these uses violates Section 9-5-3-B, which requires all nonresidential uses to be located “within the interior of the PUD, and not along state highways…”  The current development agreement limits uses to “real estate office,” “property management office,” “existing agricultural buildings,” “existing storage,” and the “Brent Hoopes Residence.”  Prior approvals of highway-oriented uses seem to have been made in error, and opening the door to them again will not only violate the intent of the PUD, but could set an undesirable precedent for PUDs elsewhere in Teton County.

Issue #3:  Conformance with the 2030 Comprehensive Plan

Finally, all development applications, especially discretionary approvals such as this PUD amendment, are subject to 2030 Teton County Comprehensive Plan.  As noted in the PZA’s report, the proposed PUD amendment conflicts with many goals and policies of the plan, which was the result of unprecedented public involvement and is basis of which future land use decisions shall be made.

Conclusion

Due to its lack of conformance with Title 9 and inconsistency with the Teton County Comprehensive Plan, we agree with the conclusions made in the PZA’s report and recommend denial of the River Rim Ranch PUD Amendment as proposed.

Thank you for this opportunity to provide comments.

Respectfully,


Shawn W. Hill

Executive Director

Valley Advocates for Responsible Development

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