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Addressing Ordinance; Gee PUD raises water protection issues, is tabled; Dog Ordinance; Buckskin Plains passed with outstanding issues

Summary of April 17, 2008 BOCC Public Hearing

During this Thursday public hearing meeting, the Teton County Board of Commissioners, approved 58.53 acres in one subdivision, totaling 23 housing units, and they tabled one subdivision totaling 28 units on 74.95 acres.

Addressing Ordinance Unanimously Passed.

This ordinance will put the entire county on a numerical addressing grid, except for the areas at the core of Victor, Driggs, and Tetonia. Representatives from our county emergency services such as the fire department, sheriff’s office, and ambulance district gave testimony as to why this ordinance is needed to help them quickly locate persons in need of help. Their stories were very moving, and illustrated how this ordinance will help reduce their emergency response times. VARD commented that the county should remember these stories about how difficult it is to locate and reach people throughout the county when they are considering developments in remote corners of the county. If a plan is not in place to stage our emergency services, it will make their jobs much harder and could jeopardy public safety.

GEE PUD Tabled Until Monday, April 28th at 2:30pm.

The lots in this 74.95-acre PUD are designed in a dense, 29 unit, city block design, partially overlapping the historical Cache townsite at the corner of 300W and Packsaddle Road. The developer has stated that “assuming the demand exists, up to 40% of the lots will be affordable housing” When this development was heard before P&Z, there was repeated public commentary that the history of high groundwater and flooding trigger the need for a nutrient pathogen study, and that the intersection of 300W and Packsaddle is unsafe for such a dense development.

At this hearing, there was the same public outcry that there are water issues and road safety issues which need to be addressed. In addition, Sarah Dunn from the Teton County Community Housing Authority commented that the developer had not contacted them to discuss affordable housing options, and that this kind of development is not in keeping with the county’s affordable housing plan. Teton County Engineer Louis Simonet commented that he had not reviewed this plan, and therefore could not attest to whether the intersection of 300W and Packsaddle was safe for this development. VARD commented that it was incumbent upon the commissioners to (1) apply their own ordinances and require an NP study, (2) review the intersection to ensure it is safe, and (3) include assurances in the development agreement that this project will be truly affordable housing as promised by the developer.

After debating the language and intent behind the nutrient pathogen ordinance, the commissioners tabled this development until the developer obtains a letter from District 7 Health that his sewage and water systems are adequate. Since the hearing, District 7 has issued a letter indicating that there is high groundwater in the area, and if the county NP ordinance were enforced on this project, the District would withdraw its approval pending the results of the study. 

VARD’s position is that both the intent and the plain language of the NP ordinance require the study to be done whenever there is groundwater within 10 feet of the surface, which is the case with this development.  VARD believes that the county must enforce its own water protection ordinance for the health and safety of its citizens and in order to be fair and consistent in handling development applications.  The charge to uphold the health, safety and welfare of the residents of Teton County likewise compels the commissioners to ensure the 300W and Packsaddle Road intersection is safe for this development.  This issue will be taken up again at 2:30 pm during the Monday, April 28th work meeting in the commissioners’ workroom behind the legion hall. 

Valley Centre Plat Amendment Unanimously Passed.

This was a small amendment to change the lot lines between lots 1N and 1S of the Valley Centre Subdivision located near the transfer station outside of Driggs. Each lot was 1 acre, and they were amended to have 1N be 0.93 acres, and 1S would be 1.07 acres.

Dog Ordinance Unanimously Passed.

This new ordinance raises the dog-at-large fines to $50 for the first infraction, $100 for the second infraction, and $150 for the third infraction.

Driggs Centre/BMC West CUP Unanimously Passed.

This is a conditional use permit (CUP) for a building materials sales store to supply the construction of the new industrial/manufacturing units of the Driggs Centre development, located on 100 East near the transfer station.


Buckskin Plains Subdivision Unanimously Passed.

This is a traditional 2.5 acre subdivision, containing 23 lots on 58.53 acres out by Fox Springs subdivision around 175 West and 675 South. VARD issued a comment letter for this subdivision stating that the commissioners should use their discretionary power to require a nutrient pathogen study for this subdivision due to the fact that all the surrounding developments qualified for one. In addition, VARD took issue with the developer’s tax revenue estimates which did not balance any of the costs that would be incurred by the county against projected revenue.  VARD believes the county must begin to require better estimates of costs associated with developments.  Without a cost-benefit approach to evaluating a development, the county cannot ensure that current tax payers are not subsidizing new development. 

Historically in Teton County, 20-30 unit developments have passed through with very little scrutiny because they were not considered very significant.  However, according to the planning firm Clarion Associates, developments with over 25 units warrant additional studies and consideration, especially if you consider the cumulative effects of such developments.


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