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Ongoing Victor sewer discussion; LID assessment roll; affordable housing; two more subdivisions; water rights; upscale hotel to break ground soon

Victor’s Sewer Plan
The city’s options for sewage treatment are a recurring discussion at city council meetings.  It wasn’t an explicit agenda item at this meeting but we offer this paragraph as a summary and update of what the city decision makers have been discussing about sewer options.  The city currently is a customer of the Driggs sewer system, which is rapidly reaching capacity.  Victor has reviewed many possibilities and at this point the preferred option is that of a local municipal plant to serve the city. The cost will be around $13 million (which would be the same as the cost for Victor’s share of an improved regional plant in Driggs).  One option the City Council has exercised to raise money for the upgrade is increased hook up fees.  As new annexation and subdivision proposals come in, each developer is made aware of the current sewer-capacity situation and many have offered to donate sewer lines, and in some cases land, to help fund the expensive improvement.  This developer-financed approach will be increasingly tested as the race between plant completion and current treatment capacity comes to a head.

LID Assessment Roll
Last Wednesday’s meeting started with a packed city hall as residents asked about bills for road improvements ranging from $413 to over $10,000.  The Local Improvement District (LID) bond was passed in 2004 and some residents are grumbling over the recently received bill.  Every lot in Victor was charged $413.13 plus $15.50 per linear foot of street frontage.  This structure, which was the city’s only legal option according to their bond attorney, resulted in the wide disparity of fees.  Corner lots with two sides of frontage were assessed thousands of dollars in costs, while some lots with no frontage received the minimum bill. 

One outspoken opponent to the LID and bill was Nolan Boyle, Executive Director of the Teton Valley Alliance, who presented a petition with 250 names of Victor residents apparently opposed to the process on the grounds of property rights.  Mayor Don Thompson told Mr. Boyle that any opposition to the LID wasn’t appropriate since it was voted on and approved by over 70% of the city’s residents in 2004, that the money has already been spent and the roads are already completed.  Mr. Boyle, frustrated, urged the city to challenge the state laws that require this fee structure in order to prevent a similar situation in the future.  This situation points to the importance of planning for growth and the false assumption that growth is paying its way in Teton County. Many of these road upgrades were necessary due to the rapid growth of the city and increased impacts to city roads. Without a current Capital Improvements Plan or a strategy to implement impact fees to new development, current residents end up footing the bill on infrastructure upgrades.

If you suspect that your assessment is incorrect, or you have any questions or concerns, contact Eric Dursteler at Sunrise Engineering; he is the engineer responsible for the LID assessment roll.  Email: edursteler@sunrise-eng.com.  Be sure to provide your LID # (available at city hall or on your bill), your concern, and any documentation supporting your case.

Affordable Housing
As part of the discussion around the Village at Victor Mountain Retreat rezone hearing (which will be detailed below), affordable housing in Victor became a central topic.  The developer of the 332-unit project, Mr. Travis Thompson, cited affordable units as a primary goal of his development, which is something VARD supports.  VARD’s Ian Tuttle pointed out that the affordable housing study conducted two months ago in Teton Valley showed an appropriate range of “affordable” houses at $130k to $203k, while Mr. Thompson cited prices starting at $175k for one apartment in a 16-unit complex.  Mr. Tuttle advocated for deed restrictions on units to ensure their affordability, since every free-market attempt in the past has resulted in speculative investment that drives prices above the affordable threshold.  Councilman Richard Naef made a motion to approve the rezone with the condition that development is limited to the requested 332 units, but the developer has the option to build more if the extra units are dedicated to a housing authority.  The motion carried and passed with a vote of two in favor, one opposed.  At this time a housing authority does not exist, but this is a significant step towards establishing one and with county-wide support and participation, an effective and reliable affordable housing solution may be found.

Two new subdivisions
Painted Skies subdivision was approved unanimously, with 11 lots on 7 acres between downtown and Teton Springs.  Mr. Ben Squires represented the development and agreed to build paved bike paths to connect the two cul-de-sacs in the development to a wider pathways network.  Also, the aforementioned Village at Victor Mountain Retreat, with 332 units on 40 acres, was granted a rezone. The city council discussed the need for affordable housing (detailed above) and also acknowledged that Mr. Thompson has made significant offers towards a Victor sewer plant.  The council stated that a reason for granting this density is to help the developer get a higher return on his investment since he has offered to assist with the treatment plant.

Water Rights
Victor’s mayor, Don Thompson, signed a request to the state water agency for increased rights to serve the city’s growing population.

Teton Lodge and Outfitters

The upscale condominium and hotel project planned for Cedron and Highway 33 will break ground as soon as the developers provide a traffic impact study as well as guarantee sufficient water for fire protection.  Travis Thompson has promised to serve the Lodge with a well he will drill, but a formal agreement has not yet been drawn.  The Lodge developers hope to begin work as soon as possible.

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