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Landfill; trails; Saddleback Vistas height waiver; emergency moratorium work session; county planning/legal fund; county commissioner emails; relationship between P&Z and Board of County Commissioners

Free Dump Day
The Commissioners voted to keep the longstanding tradition of “free dump day” in place at the land fill. It will be May 12th and will be for non-commercial users.

Scout Clean Up
The commissioners also decided to continue supporting the scout clean up day at the landfill site. In years past, 73 scouts have participated and worked enough hours to earn  $1000.00 which is paid to the scouts by the County.

Construction & Demolition (C&D) Pit
Nelson Engineering, which has the contract to monitor the C&D pit located across the road from the landfill, reported that they expect the total life of the C&D pit to be in the neighborhood of 10 years. In 2006 the county accepted a total of 175.43 tons of C&D material. This year alone, in four months the tonnage is 764.32 tons so far.

Road and bridge reported that the road that runs past the landfill has been rebuilt and is finished.

Trails and Pathways

 Tim Adams reported that the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WDOT) is going to fund a continuation of the multi-use pathway from Moose Creek to the Teton Creek campground, which is located at the base of Teton Pass. The commissioners agreed to write a letter in support of that project.

Saddleback Vistas height waiver
Saddleback Vistas, located on the east side of the scenic corridor along Highway 33 between Driggs and Victor, has asked for a height waiver for their proposed riding arena.  As reported in a previous email update, the current zoning has a 30 foot high limit in residential developments whereas the proposed riding arena will be 40.6 feet in height, with approximately 10 foot high cupolas 10+/- on top of that. The main discussion revolved around the definition of a “barn” as a barn structure used for agricultural purposes can have a height of up to 60 feet.  The BOCC decided to view the riding arena in this light and voted to allow the “barn” as is by a 3-0 vote.

VARD finds it hard to see how a riding arena used by the property owners of a residential development for riding their horses is an agricultural “barn”.  It was the responsibility of the designers of the facility to make sure that their building was in compliance with county ordinances and stayed within the 30 foot limit. We hope that this doesn't set a precedent for all kinds of other creative definitions of “barn” and “agricultural use” within residential neighborhoods.

Emergency Moratorium Work Session
Commissioners moved to send out two RFP's (requests for proposals). One for a surveyor/engineer to review proposed subdivision/PUD plats. This is important to ensuring that property lines on proposed plats are accurate.

The other RFP was to hire a private planning/land use consulting firm to help the county corroborate its ordinances, comprehensive plan, Preferred Land Use Map and any other issues involving land use that the county is facing.

The notices are scheduled to be sent out on May 3rd and May 10th.

County Planning/Legal Fund
The Planning Capacity and Legal Fund set up to help the county in its planning effort and in the defense of the moratorium was discussed. Commissioner Trupp asked how much money had been put in the fund to date as he was concerned that the county could not move forward without the necessary funds as he had heard that there was only $350.00 in the fund. County Clerk Mary Lou Hansen reported that an anonymous donor had called and pledged $10,000 towards legal fees. Commissioner Young also reported that David Huntsman of Huntsman Springs pledged $30,000 dollars for planning and Geordie Gillette of Grand Targhee had pledged $50,000 dollars for the same purpose. The Stanley Family Fund has also pledged $30,000 for planning. Pledges and donations total $120K to date.

Given the designations of use accompanying donations, Commissioner Stevenson moved to create two funds: one for legal fees either related to the moratorium or other the planning/land use issues.  The other for planning capacity for expert planning help and any corresponding legal help that would go along with those planning efforts. Commissioners Young and Stevenson voted in favor with Commissioner Trupp abstaining.

These sizable donations in the community indicate  how much  work there is to be done during the moratorium as well as the private sector's commitment to ensure that the county's planning issues are addressed. When private citizens and developers give significant money to help the county pursue its vision for growth it speaks to the value of good planning for strong investments. Long term investors in the community, whether small business owners, private citizens or large developers, realize that good planning is important to maintaining what makes Teton Valley unique and valuable. We encourage you to make a donation, no matter how small, to one or both of the county funds to show your support of the county's efforts to tackle the growth challenges we are facing.  

County Commissioner Emails
Commissioner Trupp initiated a conversation on various e-mails that the Teton Valley Alliance had requested from the county. The purported purpose of their request was to see if there had been any illegal communication regarding the moratorium between commissioners Young and Stevenson.  Commissioner Trupp said that he was being left out of the loop and that all communications between commissioners should be copied to all parties. Both Stevenson and Young stated that they felt that they had not done anything that was wrong.

Certainly on reading several of the e-mails the issue of whether the open meeting law was violated is open to interpretation.  There is a fine line between deliberating on policy (which is not allowed) and discussing the need to have a deliberation on policy (which is). As Commissioner Young stated, if any citizen feels that any wrong doing took place they should bring their concerns to the County Attorney. As has been evidenced by the previous board's actions and its reprimand by the state attorney general,  democracy is messy and it can be a challenge to uphold the exact letter of the law when it comes to the open meeting statute. However, VARD has always advocated for an open process and the importance of public officials complying with open meeting laws.  This case is no different although we do believe that freshman commissioners should be given the benefit of the doubt when they say that there was no premeditated intent to circumvent any laws. At the end of the day if mistakes were made the guilty party/parties should be fined, educated as to how to avoid the same mistake in the future and the county should move on and address the important issues facing the community.

The focus should be on the long task list that all three commissioners agreed were the important issues to tackle. As evidenced by the contributions to the county fund, others agree that the focus should be on planning. It is unfortunate that there are those who are only looking at the short term picture and are not participating in creating a healthier more stable environment for Teton Valley.

Relationship between the P&Z and Board of County Commissioners
Andy Richardson, the county P&Z chair, came before the board upset that the proposed public hearing agenda for the May P&Z meeting was amended without consulting him first.  Planning Administrator Hibbert had made the amendments after consulting with members of the board. The changes he made were additions from the Task List adopted by the county commissioners in order to address the issues which caused the board to enact the moratorium.  The administrator had asked that some of these items be reviewed at a previous P&Z work meeting, but the P&Z commission had not done so.  

This incident raises several questions such as who is responsible for setting the P&Z agenda, how is the Planning Administrator supposed to interact with both the board and the P&Z commission and what should the board do if they are at odds with the P&Z in terms of priorities for the community.  The board and P&Z need to be on the same page in terms of the answers to these questions in order for the P&Z and board to work together effectively to serve the public interest.  There are too many pressing issues facing the county than to spend valuable time quibbling over turf.


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