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Painted Skies preliminary plat; Teton Lodge and Outfitters CUP; Victor Mountain Retreat annexation and zone change

Painted Skies Subdivision
The preliminary plat for the Painted Skies Subdivision, which was presented by Ben Squires, consists of 11 lots and is located south of downtown and just north of Teton Springs.  Typically, an 11 lot subdivision at this kind of location would not be a difficult annexation for VARD to support, however given the city’s planning deficiencies and current growth strategy VARD feels we must oppose all annexations to the city. In order to ensure that the annexations do not overburden taxpayers that city would need to gather more information about the costs and revenues  that would result from each annexation.  They could do this with the following planning tools: a Capital Improvements Plan, requiring developers to do Fiscal Impact Analysis, and a strategic plan/identification of priority annexation areas.  The plat was approved by the P&Z by unanimous vote.

Teton Lodge and Outfitters Conditional Use Permit
The P&Z granted a conditional use permit for a variance in building size, building height and parking requirement by unanimous vote with the conditions that the height and size do not exceed the limits identified in the plans presented to the commission during the meeting, that a fiscal impact analysis (FIA) be conducted examining expenditures and revenues from the project and that a traffic study be conducted.

Teton Lodge and Outfitters is proposing a 137 condo/hotel complex consisting of 6 separate buildings located just north of Cedron on 50 W. off of Highway 33. Building height identified in the plans are at 39 feet.  The largest building size is estimated at 93,099 sq. feet including the basement and three floors.

VARD supported the project based on the high density of residential and its ability to positively contribute to downtown Victor’s economic vitality. VARD expressed concerns with the size of the buildings and the precedent of a variance for size in light of the overall design goals for the downtown. VARD also requested that the commission require a Fiscal Impact Analysis that identified revenues and expenditures related to effect to community character, downtown businesses, sewer and water, roads and traffic, etc.

The commission deliberated for over 3 hours on the CUP with concerns over the process for approving a project of this size and scope. They felt they needed more information on the project’s impacts before they could comfortably encourage the developer to move forward and wanted more time to review the plans provided to them that night. Commissioner Barney stated he didn’t feel comfortable making “decisions contingent upon” when other information was not available (e.g. traffic study or FIA) and that it sent the message of sending the applicant “half way across the bridge” to only send them back if there was an issue. After deliberation and vote the commission discussed the city’s apparent piecemeal process for approvals and desire for a more streamlined and efficient process that can look at the entire project. VARD echoes these concerns understanding that a more efficient, comprehensive and clear process will be not only easier for the city, applicant and public but will also produce better decisions.

Victor Mountain Retreat
The Victor P&Z approved by unanimous vote a zone change to R3 (multi-family residential) for the Victor Mountain Retreat which is located to the northwest of Teton Lodge and Outfitters along 100W. There was some deliberation over placing a cap on number of units allowed in the zone.

The applicant, Mr. Travis Thompson, said that he wanted to place 332 condo units (less than allowed in the R3 zone) on the property, similar to the Valley Centre condos around the old Ford Garage north of Driggs, and would like to offer the units as affordable housing. VARD opposed the zone change based on the density being inappropriate for how far out it is from downtown Victor. VARD commented that encouraging dense zoning this far from the downtown core not only detracts from downtown vitality but also results in commercial sprawl.

VARD also commented on the difficulty for developers to create truly affordable units because of the high cost of land and construction costs. Developers can maintain affordable units but to do so controls need to be put in place such as deed restrictions and a plan for who qualifies for affordable units to avoid predatory speculative buying of affordable units. A good example of a project that was plugged as “affordable” by developers is Shoshoni Plains in Driggs that stated houses would be around $275K. A recent sale in Shoshoni Plains was approximately $400K. The draft affordable housing study for Teton County identified the gap in housing for residents to be between $130-$203K. Mr. Thompson stated he plans to offer his units between $175-$250K.

Finally, VARD recommended that if the city was inclined to grant the zone change, but wanted to ensure that the development proposed was built in the zone, that they should consider granting a zone change concurrent with the development approval. Otherwise, the city would be vulnerable to having an R3 zone that could be placed back on the market and a different project utilizing maximum density proposed.

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