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Canyon Creek Ranch approved with conditions; Legacy Lakes continued; New fee structure passed for development applications

Canyon Creek PUD final plat approved with almost two-dozen conditions
This is a ranch-themed PUD with 400 units proposed on 2,619 acres straddling the Madison/Teton county line. Several neighboring landowners spoke neutrally on this project, expressing concern about how cattle would be contained on the property and the control of sewage treatment pond smells. Jay Pence from the U.S. Forest Service spoke neutrally on the project, expressing wildland fire and public access concerns. Former commissioner Alice Stevenson spoke neutrally about the project, urging the Board to take the time to carefully review all aspects of the project and put clearer limits on the project’s incidental uses such as the lodge and cafe.  VARD spoke neutrally on this project, emphasizing that as the first final plat hearing for such a major project, the Board needed to do their due diligence in reviewing the details of the master plan, and also ensure that the outstanding road access agreements with neighboring Madison County and the snowmachine district were taken care of prior to approval.  One neighboring landowner spoke in opposition to the project, citing his family’s concern for public safety because the project is only accessible on roads through Madison County, which are not maintained in the wintertime.

After two hours of deliberation, the Board unanimously voted to approve this PUD, subject to almost two-dozen conditions including:  review of the community water and sewage system by an independent consultant, signing of the Madison County road agreements, a memorandum of understanding regarding winter road maintenance, and satisfaction of the county engineer’s concerns. At one point the commissioners did discuss whether they should table the application until they could more carefully review their conditions for approval. However, they decided that this would further contribute to the scheduling backlog of pending projects. 

While Canyon Creek PUD has many positive design aspects, the Board approved a very large project in one night while there were still several significant outstanding questions and concerns. The Board sought to address those concerns by including them in the almost two-dozen conditions for approval, but this places a significant burden on the planning office staff to ensure these conditions are fulfilled.  In VARD’s opinion, waiting until everything is in place for an approval without conditions better protects the interests of everyone involved. 

Legacy Lakes PUD final plat continued

This was the first hearing in over twenty-three (23) months for this high density (80 lots on 155 acres) PUD proposed in a relatively rural location (to the east of Highway 33 at approximately 305 N.)  VARD spoke neutrally about this application, citing the following concerns:
*The developer has not taken any steps to procure the water rights required to support this project, as required by the P&Z almost two years ago.
*The large artificial water features that don’t make environmental sense in our climate. 
*Flooding concerns on the property.
*The lack of meaningful open space.
*No mitigations/community benefits have been proposed by developer.  

Representatives from both Grand Teton Canal Company and Huntsman Springs expressed concern with the lack of appropriate water rights for this project, and the potential for Dry Creek to flash flood on the property, spilling over onto Highway 33. Neighboring landowners to the south expressed concern with the water rights situation and how the project would affect the irrigation pipe easement that they share with the property. Another neighbor’s letter was read into the record protesting this project because of the developer’s poor track record with water issues in his other subdivisions. On rebuttal, developer Bruce Simon stated that in this economic climate, he did not know when he would be able to begin work on this PUD. 

The Board continued this application, requiring the developer to produce more information on his water rights, address concerns outlined by Fremont Madison Irrigation District, submit a revised fiscal impact study, provide more details regarding the proposed tennis center, and submit a phasing plan for the project as required by ordinance. The Board did not set a deadline for these new submissions, but we will let you know when the new materials are available for public review.

Adoption of new fee structure unanimously passes

The county commissioners unanimously adopted a new fee structure that would compensate the county for expenses incurred when reviewing a development project. Instead of paying the old fee of $234 per lot or unit, the new cost will depend on the size of the project because a different amount of county staff time and resources are involved in projects of different sizes. The new fee structure is a big step forward because it ensures that the county is accurately compensated for reviewing development applications.

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