Comp Plan – Zone Change
Tuesday, February 6th Tetonia Planning & Zoning Commission Meeting P&Z zone change highlights need for new comp plan, preferred land use map The Tetonia P&Z recommended approval of a zone change of high density residential (R-3) to neighborhood commercial (C-1) on 2.5 acres on the southwest end of Main Street. VARD submitted comments on the request, reiterating our past comments that the city needs to undertake a comprehensive plan update, as well as develop a preferred land use map showing suitable projected land uses in the city. This map would show the vision of the city for commercial growth patterns. A preferred land use map would not replace the current zoning map, but would instead show the cityﾒs intention for land uses in the future. If a landowner requested a zone change that is consistent with the comprehensive plan and the preferred land use map, the city council could easily approve the zone change, knowing they are keeping the communityﾒs vision for land use in the city. Without such a map, it is difficult for the city council to know if a zone change fits in with the cityﾒs vision for commercial growth. Last month, the Tetonia City Council faced a decision that illustrates the problem of making zoning decisions without a current comprehensive plan and preferred land use map. The city council approved a zone change from residential to neighborhood commercial on the northwest end of Main Street, while they denied a similar zone change across the street on the northeast end of Main Street. The only difference between the two lots is that one is adjacent to commercial zoning (approved) and the other lot is not adjacent (denied), although only a few lots away for commercial zoning. The city council feared that approving a rezone of the lot that was not adjacent to commercial zoning would be considered illegal spot zoning. Although rezoning a single property may be open to a legal challenge, such a rezone is not necessarily a spot zone if it is in accordance with the comprehensive plan. By not updating the cityﾒs comprehensive plan, nor creating a preferred land use map, the city is unnecessarily restricting its ability to manage growth. The city is also vulnerable to perceptions that its decisions are inconsistent or arbitrary. By initiating an update to the comprehensive plan, the City of Tetonia will promote stability in planning and zoning, be in a position to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by economic growth and ensure that their decisions are consistent with the long-term vision of its residents. There is no perfect time for any community to embark on comprehensive planning, but as Tetonia begins to feel more and more development pressure, the sooner they get the tools in place to deal with growth the better.