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County mulls subdivisions’ futures

Newspaper: Teton Valley News

Reprinted from the Teton Valley News, August 19, 2010

By Rachel Horne, TVN Staff

Click here to view the article from the TVN Web site.

The Teton County Commissioners met Thursday to take on the 38 subdivisions and 3,596 units with incomplete infrastructure in the rural part of the county. The county is bound by state statute to take action and can't hold them indefinitely. Most of the subdivisions have stalled and run out of money to complete their infrastructure, but are bound by developer agreements with the county to do so.

Sales have dried up and many developers can't get financing to finish their projects and therefore can't pay. So far in 2010 only six permits have been issued. There were 26 county permits issued in 2009 and at that rate, it's estimated that it would take 269 years for the existing lots to be absorbed.

Commissioner Kathy Rinaldi said on Tuesday that the county's first step is communication with developers. They'll start with sending letters to developers in breach of their contracts. Rinaldi said they also discussed setting up an expedited replatting process.

"Were still trying to figure out what tools and incentives the county can use as well as communicating with developers," she said. "We all recognize that every situation is a little bit different."

Rinaldi said the commission is sensitive to the economic situation and wants to help create incentives for developers that make their products marketable, but that also would benefit the community. One idea is to offer incentives to developers to replat with less density in the rural part of the county, or perhaps replat to have higher density closer to city centers. The details for an expedited replatting process haven't been fleshed out yet. New county planner Angie Rutherford, County Attorney Kathy Spitzer and Bill Collins of Collins Planning Associates are working on drafting a replatting process, but it's not yet scheduled for a hearing. It will go through the planning and zoning process before coming before the commissioners.

In the meantime, after letters are sent to developers they'll have 60 days to contact the county or fulfill their original obligations. Complicating the situation further, some developments are now owned by banks.

While Teton County isn't unique in the suffering form economic fall out, it is one of the top 10 counties in the West suffering from a big boom and bust. The county had $156 million in property fall into foreclosure in 2009.

To contact Rachael Horne e-mail reporter2@tetonvalleynews.net.

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