Driggs City Council Unanimously DENIED Rivers West

April, 21 2022

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It was standing-room-only in Driggs at last night’s public hearing forRivers West Subdivision. This controversial subdivision was proposed by Mr. Colby Hackbarth of GoWest Land Holdings out of Lafayette, Colorado. Located on 40 acres east of Teton High School, on E Ross Ave and Booshway St, the land is currently undeveloped and has been maintained for winter trail use. The master plan accompanying the preliminary plat application showed creation of166 lots designed for twin homes proposed in four phases including an additional zone change for 40 more lots in 10 four-plex buildings.The first phase proposed 24 twin home lots of an average 0.11 acres which is adensity of 10 units/acre where the Comprehensive Plan calls for 2-5 units/acre.Twenty-two of the phase 1 driveways were proposed to enter directly onto the main conductor road of Ross and Booshway. Andphase 1 proposed only 0.35 acres of park space where the City code requires a minimum of 0.67 acres.

At the hearing, public comment was limited to 3 minutes of testimony per person and it took around 3 hours for everyone to have their opportunity to speak.Not one single comment was in support of the application, and only one person spoke in the neutral position.

Common themes raised by the public came through loud and clear: The proposal violated the City’s own code, Transportation Plan, and Comprehensive Plan in several ways and therefore must be denied. The density (particularly in phase 1) was much higher than allowed in the Plan and surrounding neighborhood. Moreover, phase 1 only proposed half of the required park space. From a safety perspective, the driveway layouts violated the City’s Transportation Plan and went against the recommendations of the city’s staff and Public Works. Neighbors raised many specific examples of how dangerous the traffic impacts would be from this development, and the need to protect Safe Routes to School along the existing multi-use pathways.

 

After compelling testimony, VARD's Staff Attorney, Anna Trentadue, presented the council with a proposed Motion to Deny Rivers West.

On Rebuttal:

Hackbarth’s project engineer stated that the controversial driveways along Ross and Booshway were necessary because the electrical transistor boxes were interior to the project. However, as pointed out by the public, there were already boxes immediately abutting the streets. 

 

Mr. Hackbarth said he needed the driveway configuration to save on construction costs and building time. He estimated that he could shave off 3-5 weeks of construction time and offer the houses at a lower price by utilizing city streets instead of building his own inside the project. (Using City streets also enables a higher housing density onsite.) Hackbarth said he was willing to negotiate on park space. He also indicated a plan to own several of the units inside the development himself. The construction drawings submitted to the City were just initial designs and he emphasized that he didn’t intend to create a monolithic neighborhood where all the houses look the same. He suggested the City add a traffic light to help with the development's chaos.

The Deliberation and Vote by City Council:

Our staff stayed up way past our bed times listening to the deliberation and hearing the unanimous vote to deny Rivers West Full Plat Subdivision and Master Plan. Council went back and forth with questions for planning staff but the saying proved true - you can't fit a square peg in a round hole - and the application was insufficient on multiple fronts and in no way aligned with Driggs community character. 

 

Councilmember Knowles moved to deny the application based on:

  • Lack of conformance with the Transportation Plan
  • Lack of conformance with article 12.1.2 of the LDC
  • Lack of comprehensive traffic study that reflects the entire master plan
  • Clear parks requirement determination
  • Phasing details with timelines
  • Ownership and maintenance details
  • Improvement plans approved by public works and include parks and pathways

Councilmember Calder seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

 

Driggs does not need to be 'saved' by a developer with only a bottom line driver. Driggs is working diligently on housing solutions and a multifront approach across Teton Valley has been moving for quite some time now. Developers with a 'knight in shining armor' approach is not what Driggs is looking for. Our community and elected officials sent a powerful message last night that Driggs cares about maintaining and improving its neighborhoods. Mayor Christensen and Council listened to the community's comments, they heard them, and they made the best decision for our community. 

 

Thank you again to our Engaged Community Members and to Driggs City Council for listening to their constituents.

Rivers West Public Hearing 4/19/22

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Niki Richards, Executive Director
(208) 354-1707
285 East Little Avenue
PO Box 1164
Driggs, ID 83422

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