County delays freeze on rural developments
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
February 8, 2013
Teton County commissioners on Tuesday delayed voting on a moratorium on higher-density, rural developments.
Board members voted 4-1 to push their deliberations to Feb. 19.
Commissioner Barbara Allen, a former town planning commissioner, cast the lone opposing vote.
“I just don’t see how putting this on hold benefits us,” she said.
County officials haven’t shown that the planned residential development tool is broken, Allen said.
Other board members said the moratorium would give them time to sort through new regulations and start to put a new comprehensive land-use plan in place.
The planned residential development tool allows rural landowners to build denser projects if they set aside a certain amount of open space.
There are three levels of the tool, which allow property owners to increase density on their land by multipliers of three, six or nine.
Each threshold has its own prescribed amount of required open space. While the lower level has been used frequently as a conservation tool, the higher multipliers have only been used a handful of times.
The nine-month moratorium, as it’s currently written, would only apply to higher density plans. It would freeze proposals that would result in at least 10 new lots, as well as all subdivision-planned residential developments.
Commissioners delayed the moratorium vote to give residents a chance to review it and submit comments. The proposal can be found at Tetonwyo.org on the agenda for commissioners’ Feb. 5 meeting.
When commissioners review the proposed moratorium they could put it in place immediately, which would block all applications submitted to their planning department after Jan. 31. However, commissioners could make “reasonable exceptions” for individual projects.
“I don’t know how you’re going to look at defining reasonable exceptions without making all exceptions,” said Scott Pierson of Pierson Land Works.
The county’s new comprehensive plan, approved by commissioners and town councilors in May, primarily seeks to push new development to already-developed areas while preventing more growth in rural parts of the county.