Lower Valley Energy is pursuing a rezone to allow the utility company to build employee housing for its staff.
Jim Webb, president of the regional cooperative utility, said electricians and gas technicians primarily live outside of the community but are often expected to be on call for emergencies.
“We have the same issues everyone has,” he said, “which is trying to keep our emergency response people close to town so we can respond to outages and emergencies.
“If somebody smells gas in their home or digs up one of our gas lines or something, we need to be ready to respond,” Webb said.
Lower Valley filed a preliminary application with Teton County on Oct. 9 outlining a proposal to build housing on a Little Horsethief Canyon property as a first step.
Right now, the 7.14-acre parcel is vacant and owned by the Teton County Hospital District. Located directly south of the Lower Valley staging area and local offices on South Highway 89, the land is zoned for single-family homes in the rural subdivision. It’s also within the county’s natural resource overlay.
Nearby are single-family lots at the Little Horsethief Canyon subdivision as well as 23 townhouses at the Teton County Housing Authority’s Sage Meadows development across the highway.
Clerks’ records show the hospital acquired the property in 2007. Hospital spokesperson Karen Connelly said a friend of the hospital wanted the district to have it, but the hospital doesn’t have any plans to use it.
Lower Valley’s application with Teton County proposes 14 or more townhouses, though “the proposed density is conceptual,” it says.
Currently Lower Valley owns one shared condo where linemen and gas techs can stay when on call if they live a certain distance away from Jackson Hole.
“We’re similar, maybe not the same, as the fire department or police, because usually we do have a little time to respond,” Webb said. “But we still want to get the best reliability and service we can.”
The first step for the project would be a zoning map amendment, changing the property from rural to business park, which applies to the abutting land to the north.
Zoning map amendments are subject to Board of County Commissioners approval.
Then, the utility would apply for sketch and development plans.