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Will The Comprehensive Plan Help Me Lose Weight?

Newspaper: Teton Valley News & Valley Citizen

By Stacey Frisk,
VARD Executive Director

Recent letters to the editor on the Comprehensive Planning process have focused on what the Comp Plan can and cannot do for citizens of Teton County, Idaho.  These letters outline perceived threats to private property—including fears of forcible confiscation of land and property rights.  Given the roller coaster of recent economic and demographic change in Teton Valley, it is understandable that the planning process is accompanied by a sense of uncertainty.  However, the Comp Plan does not impact land ownership or change county zoning. It only addresses future growth, not existing development. 

The Comprehensive Plan, known as Teton Valley 2020, is a blueprint for future growth and development and is required by Idaho law.  With the help of broad public input, it will outline our community’s values and goals, and guide decisions on land development, expenditure of public funds, and tax policy. Put another way, Teton Valley 2020 is our community’s opportunity to determine what our new economy will be.  A Comp Plan that encourages vibrant urban cores, preservation of rural character, and access to public lands will protect and enhance all the things that make Teton County a great place to live or visit.    

This is not a new process. The Teton Valley 2020 planning effort was launched in late 2010 and has been marked by the goodwill, enthusiasm, and commitment of dozens of citizen volunteers. These volunteers took to local events, churches, and the Internet to collect personal stories and opinions on community values, while also promoting opportunities for public involvement. Perhaps you saw the “Plan Van” at Music on Main or the Felt Centennial last summer. Nearly 10% of the county participated in a survey of community values, with Outdoor Recreation topping the list. Schools and Rural Character came in second and third. 

Teton County then invited all residents to participate on planning committees focusing on issues such as agriculture, economic growth, and transportation. These committees took on the challenging work of incorporating public values and feedback into a working framework. Committee members are all volunteers who have generously contributed their diverse expertise and viewpoints to this difficult and important process. Valley residents should be supportive and proud of their ongoing commitment to this vital public service. 

Of course, the million-dollar question remains: Will the Comp Plan help me lose weight?  According to the Teton Area Advisory Forum, the answer is yes, it just might!  Comp Plans strongly influence accessibility to recreation amenities such as pathways, parks, and access to public lands. If you want a county recreation center the answer lies in the Comp Plan.  Opportunities for safe bike routes to work or school? The answer is – you guessed it – the Comp Plan.  Of course, the Comp Plan can’t force you to the gym, or make you eat your broccoli, but it can create accessible opportunities to enjoy the scenery and sunshine in Teton Valley.  And you just might lose weight!



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