Decision Makers: Teton County Planning & Zoning Commission
Topic: May 14, 2013 – Canyon Creek may soon be the first development in Teton County to be successfully replatted.
This is the first development to apply for a re-plat under the newly-adopted Teton County re-platting ordinance which facilitates the redesign of zombie subdivisions.
Canyon Creek Planned Unit Development (PUD) was originally approved in 2009 as a 350-lot ranch style resort on roughly 2,620 acres including approximately 25 commercial lots, a horse arena, and lodge. Straddling Madison and Teton Counties, the location of this development is extremely remote – over 23 miles from city services. Idaho Fish & Game considers this property to be critical wintering habitat. Wildlife impacts and the logistics of providing services to such a remote area were a top concern at the public hearings three years ago.
(This is Canyon Creek. Click to see more images)
Is anything developed in Canyon Creek PUD?
Canyon Creek is one of 9 “paper plats” in Teton County, meaning that a plat was recorded on the property, but almost 0% of the improvements are complete and the property still looks like raw land (leading many valley residents to not realize the land has been subdivided). No lots are sold and the property has been for sale for the past several years. The half of the project that is located in Madison County expired in 2011.
What is the developer proposing to replat?
For the past year, the Canyon Creek development team has submitted several replat proposals in exchange requesting extensions of time to complete their project. Their first replat application proposed to reduce the number of lots from 350 to 270 by removing one section of lots along the canyon rim for an extension until 2032. Such a large extension of time raises serious questions about tying the hands of government with an incomplete development entitlement that stretches out 21 years. VARD submitted this July 12, 2011 comment letter regarding the replat proposal, questioning whether removing one section of lots was really a significant public benefit given the size and scale of this project. On July 12, 2011 the Teton County Planning & Zoning Commission reviewed this replat application, but did not think that it merited approval. Then, the developer applied for a 12-month extension from the Board of County Commissioners, which was unanimously denied.
After all this back and forth, the Canyon Creek development team has now gotten quite serious about redesigning their project to reduce environmental impacts. The latest design proposes to reduce the overall footprint and impact of this development down to only 21 lots (ranging from 43-166 acres in size), dramatically reducing wildlife impacts on this very fragile property. They propose to complete the 4-phased project by 2021. On June 26, 2012, the Canyon Creek design team presented this tentative replat to the Board of County Commissioners, and it was met with enthusiasm from the board as well as from Idaho Fish & Game. However, correspondence from the Teton County Sheriff's office and the Fire District indicated that emergency response to such a remote location will still be slow and potentially impossible during the winter months. As a point of reference, the provision of critical services to such an inaccessible area has always been a top concern with this location, even during the original 2008-2009 approvals process.
Should this property be developed at all?
While it could be rationally argued that no development should be permitted in locations that cannot be accessed by emergency services, this new proposal is a 96% reduction in housing density over what was originally approved. Moreover, the underlying zoning of this property is Ag20, which would normally entitle approximately 89 lots. Thus, this new design reduces the number of residential lots to only 23% of what the base zoning would normally allow.
So what happens next?
The development team has now put together a formal replat application with engineered plat designs and submitted them to Teton County for review and possibly approval. The fist step is a public hearing before the Teton County Planning & Zoning Commission, which will take place at approximately 6:00PM on Tuesday May 14th at the Teton County courthouse in Driggs.
- CLICK HERE to review the application materials, the Teton County Planning Staff's report, the new maps, and also the public's comments.
- If you would like to submit comments, you may do so in person at the public hearing or email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the original plat for Canyon Creek:
It's hard to see all of the details, but this plat does show the three large canyons that bisect the property. Is also illustrates the expansive footprint of this development design and also the higher-density central village.
And here is the newly revised plat:
While is is still hard to see all of the details, the reduction of physical impact to the property is apparent in this new design. This plat also shows how these 21 lots will interact with sensitive habitat areas.