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Comment letter on the cut-and-paste copied Loosli Code.

Decision Makers: Teton County Board of County Commissioners

Topic: Comment letter on the cut-and-paste copied Loosli Code.

What does Shelby, Tennessee have to do with Teton County?

That’s a good question!  We are wondering the same thing.

The citizens of Teton Valley just spent 2+ years crafting an award-winning Comprehensive Plan for our community. It’s a document that recognizes the unique characteristics of this place we all call home, and outlines our shared vision for a prosperous and healthy community.  

The next step is re-writing all our regulations to implement this Plan.  Although, Teton County was already the recipient of a HUD grant, which would have covered all the expenses of having Code Studio (an Austin, TX based planning firm with 25+ years of expertise) draft our new code, the County Commissioners instead hired an out-of-county private contractor, Mr. Stephen Loosli at $50/hr to write the new code. After billing the taxpayers over 130 hours of “code writing”  Mr. Loosli has now submitted his final work product.

AND?

The Loosli code is 245 pages and 100% verbatim cut-and-paste copied from Shelby County, Tennessee (pop. 940,000), Fremont County, Idaho, our own pre-existing Teton County code, brochures, and reference guides. In some places, Mr. Loosli even failed to substitute our County’s name.  As a confusing collection of brochures, reference manuals, urban form-based codes, and rural codes, the document is wholly unintelligible as written.

You’re joking?

No. Sorry. We’re not. You can read Loosli's document here.

OK. OK. So the whole thing is totally copied from elsewhere on the taxpayers’ dime – but what about the substance of it?

The Board of County Commissioners promised a work product from Mr. Loosli that would reflect our top-notch Comp Plan and the uniqueness of Teton Valley. However, after careful review, this code bears almost no resemblance to either. 

  • The Loosli code strips away all wildlife habitat protections.
  • It allows for density bonuses up to 60 units/100 acres anywhere in the rural county. This includes along the Teton River, wetlands, and in critical wildlife habitat. 
  • It allows for developers to pre-sell lots in un-built subdivisions.  This loophole was closed by our previous Board of County Commissioners to protect the citizens of Teton County from speculative development schemes.  Why are we going backwards? 

  • It creates ONE ZONE for the entire unincorporated county. Because of our diverse landscapes and sensitive areas, the Comprehensive Plan calls for at least 7 zones to be created in unincorporated areas of the county.  This new code creates one homogenous zone. This zone would even include “Drictor” despite the fact that Code Studio is already writing code for Drictor. There will be two overlapping sets of code.
  • Even the best parts are unusable! The Loosli Code incorporates the Greater Yellowstone Framework for Sustainable Development –  which is a terrific reference material for green building! However, this reference manual is not code, and cannot be used as such. Furthermore, the manner in which it is cut-and-pasted into the code bears no relationship to the rest of the document.

TO READ A COPY OF VARD'S NOVEMBER 11th COMMENT LETTER TO THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

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