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Large scale developments in the northwest of the county; N-P study required for Quick Silver; Teton Creek Resort plat amendment request; impact numbers for all the lots recommended for approval

At the Monday, July 23rd meeting the county P&Z reviewed 8 development applications consisting of a total of 984 lots on 4,610 acres.

Large developments in the Northwest area of the valley

Two large projects on the northwest side of the valley came to public hearing Monday night. They are of particular note for their size and location in a sensitive wildlife area as well as an area that until recently has not experienced much development, with the exception of River Rim Ranch.
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The P&Z recommended for approval the concept plat for Canyon Creek Ranch, a PUD project of 2600 acres with 1800 acres in Teton County and the remaining located in Madison County.  350 lots are proposed for the 1800 acres in Teton County.  Interestingly, Madison County allows one unit per 40 acres in this part of the county whereas in Teton County, under the PUD ordinance, the underlying density of this development is one unit per 5.14 acres.  Amazingly, this development is under the allowable density provided for by the PUD ordinance, which with density bonuses can be as low as one unit per 2.5 acres or less!  This goes to show how seriously flawed the PUD ordinance in terms of the densities it encourages.  

Rural areas are inappropriate for high-density development not just because of the character of the landscape but also because of what it costs to the community to service them. In this case, Madison County should be concerned with developments on its border with Teton County, since they may ultimately be able to service emergency needs better than Teton County. In a recent newsletter VARD suggested that with Teton County's growth spilling into neighboring counties there is a good case for regional planning between counties.  A development like Canyon Creek, which is in both counties, is a case in point.

The P&Z recommended for approval at the concept level Bridle Crest, a PUD project of 2260 acres with 413 units located in the same area of the county as Canyon Creek. It is located on the north and south sides of Highway 33 west of River Rim Ranch.

The need to look at the big picture
These two very large projects are only a portion of the total acreage being developed in the northwest area of the valley, historically the most rural. Fortunately, the developers of both of these projects have assembled good teams of experts to look at the natural resources of the land and to suggest ways to minimize impacts to wildlife.  The developers stated that they are committed to habitat restoration as well, which could potentially benefit wildlife to a greater degree.

VARD commented that with the scale of development in this area it is critical that the various development groups communicate to ensure that their projects work together as a whole concerning open space, habitat restoration, protecting wildlife, etc. Arguably, this should be the job of the county as well. VARD suggested that a large overview map be made showing all the properties involved to ensure that designated open space is contiguous between the projects and that the efforts to protect wildlife habitat and migration corridors are coordinated for maximum effect.  With cooperation between the developers and the county, this area could be a model for large scale development. That said VARD is still concerned with the cumulative effects of all the proposed densities as allowed under the current PUD.

 The fact that the proposed densities are far below what is allowed in the county shows how knowledgeable developers realize that the county's densities are inappropriate for the landscape.  However, the question still remains whether the mitigation efforts proposed by the developers really do offset the development being introduced on the land in question. The fact that the developers are listening to environmental and wildlife experts is encouraging and we hope their ultimate plans reflect a primary goal of habitat and landscape protection.  However, what it will cost taxpayers to service these areas is yet to be determined.

N-P Study required for Quick Silver Ranch
One project, Quick Silver Ranch, which is located to the south of Highway 33 between Harrops Bridge and the city of Tetonia, will be required to perform a nutrient pathogen study, prior to approval because of its location in an area with a high water table,.  The county's nutrient-pathogen (n-p) ordinance requires n-p studies to be conducted on land with water within 10 feet of the surface.  The test results enable accurate planning to protect water quality.  Test wells on this property have found water to be within two to nine feet of the surface.  It is encouraging to see this example of county planning tools being used to protect one of our most precious natural resources: water.

Huge turnout for Teton Creek Resort plat amendment
A large contingent of Teton Creek Resort residents/owners expressed their concerns over the proposed plat amendments to the Teton Creek Resort plat that was recorded in 1992.  The main concerns were that the 115 unit hotel and 5 commercial lots proposed for the corner of Ski Hill Rd. and Stateline, coupled with a request to increase the hotel height to 48ft would drastically change the resort as it now exists. Many who spoke said that if they had known that this proposal could be approved they would not have bought their unit in the resort. It was repeatedly mentioned that the resort had been marketed as a low-density residential community, not as a commercial and hotel-oriented resort.

After listening to comment, the P&Z moved to allow two nuts-and-bolts changes to the plat.  Two lots were combined into one and the plat was amended to show improvements made to Ski Hill Road. The P&Z commission stated that if the new owners wanted to pursue the hotel and commercial changes that there would have to be a thorough review of all materials on the development to date to determine just what was originally intended to be allowed at the site. The new owners said that when they determined what their next move was they would inform the P&Z.

Blue Indian subdivision, located at 625 Buxton Road, Driggs was also recommended for approval at the concept level.  This subdivision has 36 lots of between 2.5 and 10 acres on 143.78 acres.  

Flying Mountain, a two lot small subdivision was recommended for approval

Mountain Legends PUD preliminary plat with 108 lots on 197 acres was recommended for approval.  This development is located between Grand Teton Road and Stateline Road approximately one and a half miles north of 250 N.

Wydaho Ranch preliminary plat was recommended for approval.  This conventional subdivision has 15 lots on 40 acres and is located at 100 E. and 500 N.

By the numbers…
Recently, during the hearing process, VARD has presented impact statistics, based on standard formulas, to help quantify the impact to county services that a development will bring.  We use average numbers with as many figures specific to Teton County as possible.  So for example, when there is a figure for Teton County, such as the average number of students per household, then we use that number over a state or national average.  During the July 23rd meeting 984 lots on 4,610 acres were recommended for approval at their respective stages in the approval process.  At full build out those lots will equate to the following for this community.   

Estimated  population increase      2853.6 people    
Wastewater produced                  285360 gallons/day    
Vehicle trips daily                       9348 vehicle trips/day
Dogs & Cats                              2952 pets   
school children                           482.16 students    
Garbage produced                       12841.2 pounds of trash/day
Water required                           510794.4 gallons/day    
Power required                           40863.552 kW hours/day
Police required                           7 officers    
Hospital beds required                 79.9008 beds    

Some argue that these numbers reflect 100% occupancy for a full time resident, not seasonal second homeowners, and therefore these impact numbers should not be cause for concern. However, as a community we have to assume these services at full occupancy for a full time resident, unless there is some restriction otherwise (e.g. deed restricting home for only seasonal occupancy).

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