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VARD advocates for public comment at MD Conditional Use Permit Review

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

Topic: VARD advocates for public comment at MD Conditional Use Permit Review

July 1, 2008

Teton County P&ZC
89 North Main Street
Driggs, Idaho 83422

RE: MD Nursery CUP Review.

Dear Commissioners,

The commercial expansion of MD Nursery has sparked a lively debate, and it is easy to focus on emotional issues. VARD is not here to tarnish MD’s generosity and kindness to their employees. We simply want to focus this argument on process. Teton County has historically struggled to make sure that people comply with their CUP’s and zoning.  This leaves an unpredictable and often unfair process. The present situation is especially unfair to other businesses working hard to stay in compliance with their permits and zoning. The present situation is also directly contrary to the goals of our comprehensive plan, which states that commercial expansion should occur in our urban areas.  

The real core of our concern with MD Nursery is fairness and consistency with the conditional use permit (CUP) process. We can’t continue this laissez-faire approach in a growing community like ours.  We therefore submit the following suggestions:

•    Public comment. We believe the P&Z should take public comment on this issue, or at least include the comment letters in the file.  Until now there has been no opportunity for public commentary regarding whether MD Nursery is in compliance with their CUP. Ironically, the Planning Administrator has cited the lack of public outcry as a justification for not reviewing the permit. However, there are many frustrated residents who want the opportunity to finally voice their concerns regarding MD’s commercial expansion along Highway 33. The role of commercial zoning along the highway and compliance with CUP’s is important to many Teton Valley residents, not to mention businesses. 

•    Updated permits. We believe that MD should submit an updated CUP application for their new uses, in compliance with their original permit that was negotiated with the county. 

•    Send a clear message. Whatever is decided with MD, the county should send a clear message that going forward, businesses should obtain the correct permitting before expanding or adding to their commercial uses.

•    Hire an enforcement officer. Better enforcement would deal with these issues up front.

MD has always been a good neighbor, but rules are rules. VARD has never advocated for a specific outcome here. Our concern, as always, is fair process. We are simply advocating that MD follow the rules that they agreed to when they got their first CUP in 2005. That means complying with their original permit, and re-submitting an application for a new permit to run their café. I hope that I have provided some insight to our position here.

Sincerely,

Anna Trentadue
Program Associate

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