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Revision of the PUD ordinance

The P&Z commission held a seven hour work meeting that focused on the need to revise the planned unit development (PUD) ordinance for the northwest area of the county, which is one of the most rural parts of the county.  Unfortunately, the commission's lack of a unified vision on the issues of density, open space and design meant that they could not agree on something that appears substantially different from what is in place now.   

Over the last few months, a group of landowners, collectively owning more that 15,000 acres on “the bench” area (the rural northwest corner) of the county have worked collaboratively with Sabra Steele of the P&Z, VARD, the Teton Regional Land Trust, and private consultants to come up with better PUD standards and guidelines for that area in order to better protect its rural character.  

It was a good process, with each party compromising and consensus was built around a draft PUD ordinance designed specifically for that area of the county entitled the Gateway Ordinance.  The ordinance included a density reduction and better open space definitions and standards. Landowners agreed that this new ordinance offered better protection of their assets, and ultimately land values, which lie in the unique landscape of the area.

The P&Z took the draft Gateway Ordinance from this working group a couple weeks ago and reworked it to the point of losing the key points of consensus by the group.  It is an ironic twist of events when developers are saying that they want more stringent requirements for their land and the P&Z proceeds to loosen restrictions and requirements instead.  For example, the P&Z undermined the higher standards for open space which the Gateway Ordinance had defined as needing to have public benefit such as agriculture or wildlife habitat.  The P&Z reintroduced golf courses into the open space definition, although the working group ordinance had only allowed a certain percentage of required open space to be met through golf courses.  

It is a pity that the P&Z commission cannot recognize the value of the work done by a group of diverse interests, including landowners and developers, to more stringently enforce the vision of the comprehensive plan.

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