Pine Glades access dispute

David DeFazio squeezes past a gate in May at the upper end of the Pine Glades development near his home on Pine Drive. The Jackson Town Council will consider amendments to Pine Glades’ development plan and also the potential of buying a pedestrian easement along Pine Glades Drive during its 6 p.m. Monday meeting.

The Jackson Town Council on Monday evening will consider whether it’s worth it to pay for an easement giving the public the right to take a walk down Pine Glades Drive.

Councilors will also hear from town planners about three other elements of the Pine Glades development plan: whether to approve changes to an unoccupied duplex, whether to do away with the requirement to heat the road and whether to approve an updated trail plan for the 12-year-old development.

The town’s staff supports all three measures.

“Our position and recommendation haven’t changed,” Senior Planner Tyler Valentine told the Jackson Hole Daily. “We’re still recommending approval of all three of the amendments.”

The access part of the deliberations has proven particularly contentious, partly because neighbors along Pine Drive, Wister Avenue and Spruce Drive have become accustomed to using private Pine Glades Drive as a pedestrian route.

In the past few years, the Pine Glades homeowners association has started signing the road, marking it with “no trespassing” signs. It is proposing building several trails through the private forest, connecting all of the above streets to Snow King, in lieu of the granting access down the road, which formerly featured a public trailhead.

“We, as a staff, feel that the trail plan, while not perfect, still provides a similar level of connectivity,” Valentine said. “Is it exactly what the original developer promised? Probably not. But we felt that it would provide a similar level of connectivity and allow for the development to move on.”

An appraisal of a potential pedestrian easement — requested by Councilor Arne Jorgensen — has been completed, but at this juncture the town is keeping the valuation confidential, Valentine said. Councilors could elect to disclose the sum during their deliberations, he said.

Pine Glades owner John Tozzi has asked the town to piece apart the different amendments, so that inertia over the access issue, if it remains, doesn’t bog down the rest of the development. The council will have that option, Valentine said.

“You can act on them a la carte,” he said. “They don’t have to approve them all at once or deny them all at once.”

The Pine Glades amendments are the first planning item that the council will consider at its 6 p.m. regular meeting. Valentine predicted it would come up by 6:30 or 7 p.m., and take 45 minutes to an hour. Although hours have been devoted to taking public comment about Pine Glades issues in past meetings, the details of the trail plan and other amendments have not yet been combed over before the council, he said.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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