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Haden Hollow preliminary plat recommended for approval; Ridgeline Ranch recommended for denial once again;

Summary of the November 12, 2008 P&Z Hearing

Haden Hollow preliminary plat amendment unanimously passed.
Haden Hollow is a small subdivision located northeast of Tetonia around 1000N and 50W. The applicant was requesting to change the configuration of the lots from four larger 9.5-acre lots, to four smaller 4.5-acre lots with one large 20-acre lot abutting the sensitive riparian corridor along Badger Creek. The commission passed the amendment unanimously.  The hope is that the design with the large lot would better protect the sensitive habitat areas.

Ridgeline Ranch recommended for denial once again.
Ridgeline Ranch is a 78-unit planned unit development (PUD) with a lodge on 280-acres located out on the north end of the valley right next to River Rim Ranch. At concept last August, this project had 83 units (with no lodge), and the P&Z commission expressed concern with the high density of the project and requested a wildlife study.

The project came back this June with 89 units and a lodge, and was unanimously recommended for denial by P&Z. (Commissioner Nickell has recused herself). As an alternative to a denial, P&Z gave the developer the option of reducing his lots from 89 down to 56, but the developer requested the denial instead. The developer then quasi-appealed this preliminary plat recommendation at the BOCC meeting on October 16th. After expressing remorse for agreeing to this preliminary plat appeal (which was outside the normal approval process), the BOCC gave the developer the option of a remand back to P&Z or proceed ahead to final plat (which might still be denied by the BOCC). The developer opted for a remand back to P&Z.

Now on remand, the developer came back to P&Z with 78 units and a lodge (instead of the recommended 56 units and a lodge), plus a much-improved open space management plan. VARD commented that the developer had not applied the minimum wildlife recommendations of his own biologist, and that the cost estimates were out-dated. Because the public benefit of this project is supposed to be the open space and habitat preservation, the biologist’s minimum recommendations for preserving wildlife should be implemented. More specifically, there should be no development in the 400-foot wildlife buffer that the biologist said was an absolute minimum for providing any kind of meaningful wildlife benefit.

P&Z identified the open space and habitat as the public benefit of this project, and determined that the thirteen (13) units located in the minimum wildlife buffers must be eliminated, and the lodge should also be removed from the buffer. The P&Z commission gave the developer the choice between a recommendation for denial of the 78 units, or approval on the condition that the lodge be relocated, and the units in the buffer are eliminated bringing the total number down to 65 units. Chairmen Hensel was the only dissenting vote; he stated he did not support the recommendation of 65 units because he thought the density was still too high for the remote location. 

Click here to read VARD's comment letter submitted at the hearing


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