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Board of County Commissioners has a busy day!

*Please note that Commissioner Larry Young was not present for these meetings.

Targhee Hill Estates has replatting work session with Commissioners

This was a public work session with Land Equity Partners (LEP) the developers of Targhee Hill Estates to discuss replatting options for their Planned Unit Development (PUD). As you may know, the County is developing a replatting ordinance and set of policies to incentivize the replatting of distressed or obsolete subdivisions. As the first pilot project to go through this kind of a replat, LEP is doing a good job of setting the bar high in terms of transparency with their project and open communication with the county. The dialogue between LEP, the Commissioners, and the planning staff has been very positive, and we are encouraged that these kind of replats can be done jointly, where the County gains benefits for the public in exchange for a better development plan for the developer.

Spence Thunell, a representative of LEP presented background on the current state of the project including the various ownership interests and the challenges of financing the project. He also outlined the various nonprofit organizations and government agencies that he has met with to discuss options for his project. Thunell highlighted the positive aspects of this project that may prove beneficial during this replat. For example, Targhee Hill Estates  has excess sewer capacity and a very productive groundwater well. LEP is also exploring foregoing their previously proposed artificial water features and instead leasing their surface water rights in stream which would create an significant environmental benefit for the community.

Thunell debuted their newly revised concept plan, which has increased their open space to 75% and the housing lots have been pulled much farther back away from the Teton Creek corridor. Kathy Rinaldi commented that this new configuration created significantly improved open space, which is more in line with the original intent of the PUD ordinance.  After a discussion on the nuts and bolts logistics of filing a replatting application, this proposal will now likely be considered in a public hearing with the county P&Z some time in the next few months. Click here to learn more about this pilot project  as a part of our Reshaping Development Patterns effort.

River Rim discussion leads to more questions

Representatives of River Rim and Glacier Bank met with the Commissioners to discuss the current state of their incomplete infrastructure and extended letter of credit.

County engineer, Lou Simonet, had several specific requests for more information regarding the irrigation and sewer systems, incomplete golf course infrastructure, and fire protection sign-off. Kathy Rinaldi was particularly concerned that the original River Rim development agreement was vague and did not include clear dates for when the infrastructure needed to be totally complete. She insisted that a new development agreement would be absolutely necessary. Considering the huge size of this project and the unlikelihood that there will be any significant sales or housing activity in this remote project for several years, County Attorney Kathy Spitzer was concerned about the remaining phases of the project, which are still 0% complete.  And last, the Commissioners were confused as to who owned River Rim and would thus have authority to sign an amended development agreement with the county, to which Glacier Bank representatives confirmed that they now own the project.

The meeting ended with River Rim/Glacier Bank carrying a large list of additional information that the county wanted to have in order to make an informed decision about the future of this very large Planned Unit Development.

Revised land use chart is adopted

The Commissioners approved a revised Title 8 land use chart, which governs the zoning regulations for the unincorporated parts of the county. One of the biggest changes was revamping the dark skies regulations (first adopted by Teton County in 2004). VARD spoke in support of all of these changes, and in particular:

  • The new addition of a home occupation ordinance was a good response to  our economic situation because it encourages home business and entrepreneurship.
  • The expansion of conditionally permitted land uses is also a good response to our struggling economy because it gives landowners low-impact options for their property while cutting down on administrative red tape.  

We spoke neutrally about the revamped dark skies ordinance that was up for adoption citing concerns that it must be clear enough for the county staff to understand and implement. Both Jack Liebenthal and Carl Jordan had submitted drafts of a dark skies ordinance with concurrent comments for the county to consider adopting. Mr. Liebenthal also drafted a citizen’s brochure to dark skies, which we testified in support of because it is good to have simple, public-friendly guides to understanding technical code requirements.

Tony Goe testified that dark skies have not yet been determined to be a community value, and that he is opposed to the government regulating lighting. He suggested that people can always plant trees as a way to manage light pollution. County Planner Angie Rutherford supported revising the dark skies ordinances so that they can be implemented more consistently, but had some concerns about the technical language of the ordinance recommended by P&Z.

In the end, the Commissioners adopted the version of the dark skies ordinance previously recommended by P&Z, as well as the public-friendly brochure. The one big change was they extended the amnesty period from 5-years as recommended by P&Z, to 10-years. 

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