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Grand Targhee Expansion – Wyoming BOCC deliberations

The Teton County, WY Board of County Commissioners met Sept. 5th to start their deliberations on the Grand Targhee expansion plans. The Board had already held several meetings at which they gathered public comment; no public comment was taken at this meeting.

At the beginning of the meeting when the board was discussing the nature and direction of the day's proceedings, Chairman Schwartz indicated that he would like to see the Board generate some conditions and motions that could be made available to the public for review before the September 26, 2007 meeting.

Commissioner Ellis moved to approve the district map (zone change) and Grand Targhee PUD master plan. The Board then spent the next 4+ hours formulating draft conditions to that approval.  Twelve conditions were approved and three tabled.

Conditions approved:

1) A conservation easement surrounding the perimeter of the resort shall be granted and a deed restriction put in place to prevent the further expansion of the resort by restricting access from adjacent private land.

2) Restrict total residential, employee and lodging units at 450 units.

3) No more than 10% of total units shall be single family and no more than 10% of the housing units shall be cabin or townhouse lots.  The intent of this restriction is to maintain the resort as a “resort” and not a real estate development.

4) Total commercial and resort services shall not exceed 12,000 sq. ft.

5) Phasing of the resort shall occur in 4 equal phases with no more than 25% of permitted development to occur in each phase (i.e. proportional lodging units to commercial uses).

6) 305 acres of important habitat lands shall be conserved through easement and stewardship with 30% of the land to be located in Teton County, WY and 70% in Teton County, ID

7) The 1% voluntary real estate transfer fee shall be used to fund and support the acquisition of important habitat lands in Teton County ID or WY. Any excess funds each year shall be granted to the Teton Regional Land Trust for conservation in Teton County, ID or WY.

8) A minimum number of essential employees (maximum 40) shall be housed on site. Those not housed on site will be housed in Teton County, Idaho

9) No accessory residential units shall be permitted.

10) No cats and dogs, with exception of service animals, shall be permitted in the resort.

11) A lighting plan shall be submitted to ensure dark night skies.

12) If traffic on Ski Hill Road exceeds the Service Level “C” from the ID/WY border no further construction at the resort can take place until adjustments are provided to maintain Level “C”.

The following conditions were tabled for consideration:

13) Donation of adequate and appropriate open space in Teton County, WY within 3 years to offset the indirect impacts of the resort such as real estate growth and open space losses.

14) Fireplaces limited to one per each 45 single family units and one per commercial area.

15) Water quality monitoring to include Mill Creek and Dry Creek during construction phases.

The intentions of the WY commissioners in their deliberations, as indicated by the conditions outlined above, are good in many respects.  However, VARD believes they missed the mark in terms of Grand Targhee’s potential as a catalyst for regional planning and to address many important community issues, such as affordable housing, cross-jurisdictionally.

When the Grand Targhee expansion process began over two years ago, VARD anticipated that the WY commissioners would examine the expansion in the context of Teton Valley as a whole, both the Idaho portion and Alta, as outlined in the Environmental Impact Analysis. Unfortunately, there has been little dialogue between the Idaho and Wyoming decision makers on Grand Targhee. Understanding that the rules and regulations in the two jurisdictions are different, VARD had hoped that WY and ID decision makers would make more of an effort to explore all opportunities to have a collaborative process.  Even after both Teton Counties recently hired the same land use consulting firm, Clarion Associates, there has still been little dialogue. It’s unfortunate when a WY commissioner states, “We need to do what is right for our wildlife and our community” referring to Alta, without keeping in mind that Alta and Teton County, ID are both part of the community of Teton Valley. Although there are good intentions on behalf of the WY decision makers, there may be numerous unintended bad consequences of their taking a narrow view of the impacts and mitigation of the expansion. 

The commissioners are expected to deliberate and possibly vote on the Grand Targhee expansion on Wednesday, Sept. 26th at 9am in the Teton County Library Auditorium in Jackson.


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