Grand Targhee expansion
Grand Targhee Update
On August 8th the Teton County, WY Board of County Commissioners conducted
another public hearing to discuss the Grand Targhee expansion
proposal. The commission did not deliberate on the expansion but questioned the applicant on changes to the plan and accepted public
comment. The next scheduled meetings for Targhee are September 5th and 26th
starting at 9 am in the commissioners’ meeting room in Jackson.
Questions from the board to the applicant and staff pertained to:
– phasing and the number of “hot beds” (visitor units such as lodge rooms as
opposed to resident units like single family homes) proposed for each phase
-a definite boundary to the resort to thwart further expansion. One suggestion was placing a conservation easement ring around the resort.
-a definitive number and justification for onsite employee housing
-a mechanism for enforcement of mitigation after build out
-how the voluntary real estate transfer fee will be structured and used.
Comments from the public in opposition to the expansion included:
-concerns from Alta residents on impacts to Alta’s quiet and rural community character
-that the $500K contribution to the Alta School from Grand Targhee is inadequate when you consider how much profit the resort is going to make
-questioning whether there was a real need for the expansion. This brought in the question of how well each of the two Teton Counties were faring economically and whether Grand Targhee addressed parts of the economy that might be considered depressed.
Those speaking favorably about the expansion plans, including Mori Bergmeyer (former owner of Grand Targhee) and Driggs Mayor Louis Christensen spoke about the benefit Targhee has been and should continue to be to Idaho.
To date, VARD has been frustrated with the way Teton County, WY has processed the Grand Targhee expansion application. There has been little recognition or discussion of the context of Targhee and the role it has in Teton Valley. VARD’s position is that the Grand Targhee expansion plan represents not merely an application to be processed but an opportunity to address root causes and better manage growth for the Greater Yellowstone Region, the communities of which face many issues that cross state and county lines: habitat loss and protection, air and water quality, affordable housing, community character etc. If Teton County, WY took the view that Grand Targhee calls for regional mitigation the decision making process would be more complex and could require more work to manage initially but VARD believes this approach will result in a better decision. Especially given recent changes in Teton County, ID, which hitherto has been the weak link in the region in terms of vulnerability to environmental degradation due to haphazard development, Grand Targhee can be a catalyst for raising the bar in the region in terms of sustainable development. Other factors that make regional mitigation a real possibility: the fact that Geordie Gillett has already demonstrated his willingness to support more progressive planning efforts in Teton Valley, there are pro-planning decision makers on both sides of the state line and both counties having hired the same land use consulting firm to review their planning documents. This is a perfect opportunity to think regionally about growth and its shared impacts. Unfortunately, to date it seems that politics and the state line seem to be too daunting a barrier.
Public meetings on the Grand Targhee expansion are scheduled for Sept. 5th and 26th starting at 9 am in the commissioners’ meeting room in Jackson.