As Snow King and Jackson officials chart the future of development on the Town Hill, some major details of the resort’s obligations — and how to fund them — remain undecided.
The town Planning Commission on Wednesday revisited Snow King’s master plan update, resurrecting a public review process that fizzled out earlier this year after months of tense negotiations between the resort and town. Since then, resort officials have revised the master plan to concede to a long list of amendments the Town Council requested.
Perhaps the most significant is a requirement that the Snow King Resort Master Association — an HOA-like group of property owners in the resort district — levy a 1% fee on all commercial transactions within the district. That money would be used to fund the responsibilities laid out in the master plan, but it’s still unclear exactly what those responsibilities are.
During the resort’s first attempt to update its master plan last year, ambiguities in the original document led to an impasse between those who believe that the association, known as SKRMA, had failed to fulfill its purpose in funding the ski area and those who argue it was never meant to fund the ski area at all.
“Looking back at the original plan, it’s sort of like looking at the Bible,” said Snow King watchdog Skye Schell, executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance. “Everybody can pick out a different verse or have a different interpretation.”
The importance of resolving that confusion is one point on which everyone can agree. Though the town has found SKRMA to be in compliance with the original master plan, Community Development Director Tyler Sinclair admitted that is largely because its requirements are vague.
“There’s always been some gray there,” he said.
As the recipients of community resentment over SKRMA’s perceived shortcomings, resort officials are as eager as anyone to lay out, in no uncertain terms, what is expected of the association in the new master plan.
“We very much don’t want to have a situation in the future where different people have different opinions about whether we’re in compliance or not,” said Jeff Golightly, a Snow King representative. “We want it to be crystal clear.”
The Planning Commission broached the subject Wednesday, but the brief discussion only raised more questions. Besides the obscurity around SKRMA’s obligations, it’s also unclear whether certain properties in the resort district are exempt from SKRMA, and whether the 1% fee will apply to condo sales.
As of now the resort does not intend for it to apply to condo sales, but Schell and others argued that this is key to keeping Snow King financially viable because “that’s probably a much bigger chunk of money than 1% on hamburgers and lift tickets.”
The Planning Commission will meet again at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 21 to continue the master plan discussion.