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Comments on Mahogany Ridge Preliminary Plat Hearing

Decision Makers: Planning & Zoning Commission–Teton County, ID

Topic: Comments on Mahogany Ridge Preliminary Plat Hearing

Teton County P&Z                                        July 1, 2008
89 North Main Street
Driggs, Idaho 83422

Re: VARD Comments for Mahogany Ridge Preliminary Plat Hearing

Dear Commissioners:

    We are pleased that Travis Thompson has volunteered to pull Mahogany Ridge from the July schedule so he can submit more detailed and consistent maps, updated phasing plans, and clarified open space calculations. He understands that the public has the right to review one consistent plan and make comments. Our concern is that if Travis had not pulled his application, the largest development in Teton County history (in terms of units) would have been proceeding to preliminary hearing with an application that confused even us and provided at least two renditions of the project. To conduct a public hearing with such an inconsistent and incomplete application would have set a dangerous precedent, disenfranchising the public’s right to submit meaningful public commentary. You cannot provide meaningful commentary if you cannot correctly identify what is being proposed.

Mahogany Ridge will have huge impacts on our rural character, schools, roads, hospital and emergency services, and wildlife. With stakes this high, Teton County simply cannot afford to have an inconsistent and incomplete application proceed to public hearing; we all need to review one consistent plan. VARD therefore respectfully submits the following suggestions as you proceed:

•    Give preliminary plat approval some substance. A completed preliminary plat checklist is a prerequisite to getting on the hearing schedule, but it is more than just boxes to check off. The materials that are turned in should be cohesive and make sense. There is plenty of room in 9-3-3 to allow the Planning Administrator to ensure that preliminary applications are substantive enough to warrant a preliminary hearing. This will also preserve the integrity of  public hearings.

•    Set a realistic hearing schedule. Perhaps break up the hearings by phasing plan or subject (ie: wildlife, fiscal impacts, etc.) The public will benefit by choosing which hearings they want attend and give commentary. The developer benefits by having a set schedule so he will not have to fly out all his experts for each and every hearing. We all will benefit from such a thorough and well-planned review process.

•    Set realistic timelines for review. A project this big comes with some serious reading materials. It will take time to process this information. Teton County may want to consult with outside experts to understand the various traffic, fiscal, and wildlife studies. Budget time for this kind of review. For example, the planning firm of Tischlerbise estimates 6-8 weeks for a thorough economic impact analysis.

With a project this big, the devil is in the details. When talking about 4,005 new residents, and 677 school children, Teton County simply cannot afford to proceed without a plan. We at VARD applaud all of your efforts and are here to support you through this process.

        Anna Trentadue
        VARD Program Associate



This is a list of all the procedural deficiencies identified by VARD in the preliminary application. Mr. Thompson is now correcting and clarifying these issues for the August hearing. Our concern is that if Travis had not voluntarily pulled his application, the largest development in Teton County would have been proceeding to hearing with the following substantial issues:

1.    The various renderings of Mahogany Ridge’s boundaries make it impossible to provide specific notice as required by the 300 foot rule (I.C. 67-6512(b)).   Which map shows that actual boundaries of the proposed project? By having inconsistent boundaries, it is almost impossible to provide statutory notice to all 300-foot internal and external abutters unless the correct boundaries are clarified. Moreover, there are additional parties (such as homeowners along Bates Road and Cedron Road) that will be impacted by a development of this size and magnitude, who should receive notice. I.C. 67-6512 is a strict statutory notice requirement that cannot be waived.

2.    Conducting a public hearing with such an inconsistent and incomplete packet instantly puts the county at a disadvantage by creating a weak foundation for the record. It is important that P&Z build a thorough and consistent record upon which to base recommendations. All judicial reviews of your PUD decisions will be based on the record you create. This record also contains the extremely important details of the fundamental assumptions upon which the development agreement will be based. Once you open the door and take this inconsistent packet to hearing, the county is instantly put at a disadvantage. With a development of this size and magnitude, there definitely will be a time when the development agreement is scrutinized. Vagaries and inconsistencies in the record weakens the development agreement, and leaves you vulnerable to new interpretations of what was agreed upon. Moreover, the county is vulnerable to having the agreement voided by a reviewing court because of mutual misunderstandings as to what exactly was negotiated and agreed upon.  

3.    The Phase 1 plat simply does not match the Master Plan. As you know, there was no large-scale, detailed depiction of Phase 1 or the Master Plan, only small, less-detailed representations or sectional representations. Neither gives you a clear overall picture of the project’s details. It took some time, but once we cut and pasted the 5-page Phase 1 plat together and the 10-page Master Plan together, the two look nothing alike. These are legally significant documents that will eventually be recorded with the county. There absolutely needs to be consistency between the Master Plan and the Phase 1 plan.

4.    Master Plan and Phase 1 plat lack important preliminary plat checklist requirements.  County Code 9-3-3-A requires submission of all items on the preliminary checklist in order for an application to be “complete.” Here, the open space use and type are not included on the plat as required in the preliminary plat checklist. There is also no open space management plan on the plat as required. The golf courses are not even included on the plat. There are no contour lines. There are no wells. In addition, there is no breakdown of open space, road, incidental uses, and housing acreage calculations. The preliminary plat checklist clearly requires all of these items.

5.    This sets an important precedent for future PUD applications. If the largest application in Teton County history can get on the hearing schedule with an application that is so inconsistent and confusing that there is no way for anyone to decipher what exactly is being proposed – then what comes next? Taking an inconsistent packet to hearing denigrates the entire purpose of declaring a packet “complete.”

6.    The Master Plan maps are vague and inconsistent. There are large discrepancies between the 10-page sectional Master Plan and the smaller color representations of the Master Plan. For example, the color map of the north end crane habitat simply does not match the Master Plan. Moreover the small color representation of the Master Plan’s land uses looks nothing like the sectional representation of the Master Plan.  The sectional representation is supposed to be the true and accurate depiction of the plan that will eventually be recorded, but it is vague and lacks specific details.

7.    The phasing plans are inconsistent. There are several discrepancies in the phasing plans for this development. For example:

a.    Introduction pages 6 & 8 state that in Phase I there will be 117 one-acre single family lots, 47 golf cabin units, and a 150 unit boutique hotel.  This translates to 314 units on 550.8 acres, which is a density of 57/100.

b.    However, the Phasing Map indicates that there will be 78 one-acre single family lots, 35 cabin tracts, 64 duplex tracts, and a 150 unit boutique hotel. This translates to 327 units on 546.70 acres which is a density of 59/100.

c.    In addition, there are similar discrepancies with every other phase of the development as described in the introduction and the phasing chart.

8.    The unit numbers are inconsistent. The housing units vary between the introduction, the phasing plan, and the preliminary application.

a.    The introduction states that there are 1,381 units.

b.    The preliminary application states that there are 1,231 lots comprised of 1,120 single family units, 111 cabins, and the hotel is not included.

c.    The phasing plan states that there are 1,381 units comprised of 1,092 single family units, 61 cabins, 78 duplexes, and the 150 unit hotel.

9.    The 54% open space calculations appear to include roads. We simply could not decipher the true percentage of open space. It appears that the open space calculations in the introduction and the phasing map include roads. If the several miles of roads are subtracted from the open space calculations, the overall open space would be much lower that 54%. In addition, the passage regarding open space calculations on page 3 of the Introduction adds to the confusion regarding open space. Does the open space include all the land outside the building envelopes as open space?

10.    The open space calculations are inconsistent. Page 5 of the introduction states that the latest open space calculation is 1,891 acres. However, the Phasing Map states there is 2,815.69 acres of open space. There is NO statement of the open space acreage in the preliminary application or on the Master Plan and Phase 1 Plat.

11.    The scaling on both the Master Plan and Phase 1 plats is off.  The scales on both maps state that 1 inch = 100 feet. However, the actual measurement is ½ inch = 100 feet. There is also no reference key on either plat. 



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