Expanding Victor Impact Area
Decision Makers: Teton County Commissioners
Topic: Expanding Victor Impact Area
Teton County Commissioners
Teton County Court House
89 North Main Street
Driggs, Idaho 83422
To the Teton County Commissioners,
I am writing on behalf of Valley Advocates for Responsible Development (VARD) in opposition to the City of Victorﾒs proposal to expand the cityﾒs area of impact. While a lot of thought and consideration has gone into this proposal, we are concerned that the consequences resulting from an expanded impact area will outweigh the merits. Specifically, we are concerned that the timing of this expansion is simply inappropriate.
Teton County and the cities of Victor, Driggs, and Tetonia, are rapidly outgrowing their infrastructure. In Victor the city staff is overworked and does not have adequate processing capacity for all of the annexation requests and subdivision proposals that come into City Hall. Planning and zoning and city council meetings commonly last until midnight or later.
Victor needs a Capital Improvements Plan in place before it expands its impact area. The city recognizes that development imposes all manner of costs upon the community. One way that other municipalities have dealt with these costs is by implementing impact fees but in order to require impact fees a city must first write a capital improvements plan. Unfortunately, the City of Victor has no Capital Improvements Plan at this time because the council and staff have been too busy dealing with development proposals. The City has repeatedly entertained the idea of having developers pay for infrastructure upgrades in exchange for denser zoning. But how can anyone know which infrastructure upgrade is most important at any given time without a capital improvements plan in place? Such a plan is just one more example of the necessary ﾓinfrastructureﾔ that Victor lacks if the city is to grow in a healthy and responsible manner.
County densities must be reconsidered. Densities that are currently allowed in the county are counterproductive to the cityﾒs goal of maintaining a dense and vital downtown. For the past two years there has been a major disparity between the densities the City of Victor desires around its city limits and the densities actually permitted by the county in the ﾓurban service ringﾔ and the ﾓurban reserve ring.ﾔ One of the chief reasons the city wishes to expand its impact area is to insulate itself from the denser zoning allowed in the county. Such reactive zoning should be a last resort, and is the result of the city and the county failing to work together to serve the best interests of each entity. This problem is one more aspect of the timing issue. Instead of hastily expanding Victorﾒs impact area as a reaction to county zoning, a better solution would be for the county to eliminate the density rings, giving the city time to develop a capital improvements plan that can then be used to steer impact fees towards the highest priority projects.
A greater impact area will give the city increased control over development that occurs proximate to the existing city, but as a corollary effect it will encourage dense development in places that are not currently appropriate. There are approximately a dozen annexation requests in Victor with hundreds of potential lots currently being considered that prove this concernﾒs legitimacy. Developers come before the City Council and ask for annexation, offering to construct new sewer lines in exchange for high density zoning. The developers can get almost identical zoning under the county code, so the city is caught between the opportunity to either (1) offer input and reap some benefit if it annexes the property, or (2) deny annexation and have the development go through the county without city input. It is the county zoning that creates this dilemma.
We propose an alternative to an Impact Area expansion. Since the expansion is a reaction to the zoning allowed by the county in the urban service ring, the urban reserve ring, and the underlying 2.5-acre zoning throughout the county, a better tactic would be to address the issue from the county side. Eliminate the rings to stop leapfrog development far from Victorﾒs downtown core. Consider a downzone so that subdivisions in the county do not compete with the densities allowed in the city. And wait for Victor to get a Capital Improvements Plan in place before proceeding with an impact area expansion.
Thank you for your consideration.