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Dave Hensel elected chair; Teton Creek Study update; Victor Impact Area Expansion recommended for denial; Thunder Ridge Preliminary Plat hearing; Carson's Creek Preliminary Plat hearing; Initial review of J Lazy H Ranch; Initial Review of Mahogany Rid

Summary of P&Z  January 8th P&Z  meeting


During this Tuesday public meeting the Teton County Planning & Zoning Commission, approved two subdivisions, totaling 11 housing units on 29.5 acres. The commissioners also reviewed two proposed PUDs which would provide 2,293 housing units in 9,907 acres.

Dave Hensel Elected Chairman of County Planning & Zoning

Dave Hensel was elected the new chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission. He replaced Andy Richardson, who was not reappointed to the commission.  Patricia Nickell-Zimmerman will continue to be Vice Chair. 

Progress Report on Utah State Teton Creek Study

Utah State’s Landscape Architecture Graduate Program reported on their assessment of future management alternatives for Teton Creek based on the current comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances for both the city of Driggs and the county. The study concluded that the current policies use weak language, and lack “teeth” for enforcement. In addition to revising the respective comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances, the study recommended the following:

1.      New best management practices (BMPs) for the creek, which would include a 300-foot wildlife buffer along Teton Creek.

2.      A greater use of conservation easements along the creek corridor to preserve land.

3.      Deed restrictions in housing developments to prohibit activities that are harmful to the creek corridor such as free-roaming pets, off road vehicles, certain fertilizers, and non-native plants.


Victor Impact Area Expansion

The city of Victor proposed a new expansion of its impact area. Unlike previous proposals this proposal left as is the eastern, southern and western boundaries of the impact area and extended the northern boundary north by one mile to 675 South.  The P&Z commission recommended denial of the proposed expansion because the new boundary would have extended a mile beyond the twenty-year sewer expansion plan. In addition the expansion is not warranted because Victor currently has lots of undeveloped land in the city that is already located on the sewer line.

Thunder Ridge Preliminary Plat is Continued.

The P&Z voted to continue Thunder Ridge until several issues are resolved by the developer. Thunder Ridge is an 11 lot, traditional 2.5 acre subdivision located on 29.5 acres just south of the Luck E Leven Subdivision, near Badger Creek and 50 West. The commission identified the following problems which the developer must resolve: 

1.      The development is located on very hilly land, so the construction of roads and driveways would involve considerable cutbacks into the hillside.

2.      Neighbors have complained that the housing envelopes are located on the highest points of the property, and therefore the development’s houses will surely violate the county skyline ordinance.

3.      District 7 Health also reported on troubles with the current septic drain field locations because of the hilly landscape.

Carson's Crossing PUD Preliminary Plat  Recommended for Approval

Carson’s Crossing is an 18.49 acre PUD which will have 9 one-acre lots and 7.55 acres of open space. This PUD is located in the Ag 2.5 rural reserve zone along 400 South and 100 East. VARD commented that this PUD perfectly illustrates the weakness of the current PUD ordinance: the developer gained 2 extra housing units by creating a tiny PUD with no real open space benefit to the community. District 7 Health’s comments illustrated another problem with tiny PUDs like Carson’s Crossing.  The housing lots are so small and dense that it is nearly impossible for the developer to install wells and septic drain fields with proper setbacks between the lots unless they are built in very specific locations. The new PUD ordinance will likely require a minimum acreage in order to do a PUD in order to avoid these kinds of problems with tiny PUDs.

The P&Z recommended this development for approval with the condition that the well and septic envelopes be recorded on the final plat and included in the CCRs so buyers will have notice of these restrictions. 

Initial Review of J Lazy H Ranch PUD

This meeting was not a public hearing and therefore was not noticed in the paper and there was no opportunity for public comment. We will let you know when this application is filed and public hearings are scheduled. 

This 6,400 acre PUD will be located just north of River Rim Ranch, with 912 lots, which works to a 14 unit per 100 acre density. The developer Jeff Russell says this PUD will incorporate conservation easements along the canyon rim, an agricultural reserve, and recreational space to total 5,059 acres of open space. The golf course and all trails in this PUD will be free and accessible to the general public. Incidental uses for this PUD may include a general store, and a bio-diesel gas station that is supplied by crops grown on the agricultural reserve. The developer’s wildlife biologist discussed the dramatic return of wildlife within the 1,000 acres that they have restored to native vegetation over the past year.

The P&Z was generally positive about the wildlife and open space elements of the project but expressed concern with the enormous size in such a remote end of the valley, and the difficulty of providing services out there.

Initial Review of Mahogany Ridge PUD.

This 3,507 acre PUD will be located along the Big Hole Mountains from just south of Bates Road, down to roughly 450 South.  The developer is proposing 1,381 lots, which works out to a 40 units per 100-acre density.  The developer Travis Thompson says this PUD will have two private golf courses, open space, and crane habitat to total 2,815 acres of open space. It is important to note however, that the developer’s open space calculation includes ALL of the land on each private housing lot that is outside the building envelope. VARD believes that this method of calculating open space is problematic. The PUD ordinance requires that privately held open space be platted on “one or more large privately held lots” (emphasis added). Here, the developer used small 1.0, 0.5, and 0.25 acre private lots to reach his large open space calculation. While the developer did not readily know the open space calculation if the private lots were excluded, the percentage of open space would certainly be dramatically reduced. Incidental uses proposed for this PUD include the following:

§         A 150-room boutique hotel

§         A fishing lodge

§         Two golf clubhouses

§         A mixed-use Village Center

§         An organic farm

§         A kid’s activity camp

§         One or two private sewage treatment plants.


The plan also calls for re-routing 500 West through the development and directly through the designated crane habitat. The developer’s wildlife biologist called Mahogany Ridge a “satellite settlement” and stated that it had been designed to encourage wildlife movement.  She also said that they would “train the cranes” to adjust to human interaction. 

P&Z expressed concern with the high density of this development, its financial impacts to the valley, and the numerous incidental uses which will turn this corner of the valley into a commercial area.


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