A Jackson woman is in trouble after violating the town of Jackson’s short-term rental ordinance.

In documents filed Tuesday by Prosecuting Attorney Lea Colasuonno, the town of Jackson charged Jennifer Wilhite, 42, with eight counts of violating the municipal code.

The violations occurred between January 2016 and July 2017, according to documents obtained by the News&Guide.

An affidavit written by Jackson Code Enforcement Officer Brian Morris states that several neighbors claimed Wilhite was allowing as many as 15 people to live in her house on Absaroka Drive in East Jackson.

Morris visited the house July 18, and tenants confirmed there were 14 Snow King Mountain Resort employees living together at the address.

“While at the property I personally observed three bedrooms that had two beds in each room on the upstairs floor for a total of six people living upstairs,” Morris wrote.

He also observed four beds in two bedrooms on the lower level and a converted living room, with couches being used as beds in common areas.

Since the house is a residential single-family unit, only three unrelated people can legally occupy it, Morris stated.

Morris contacted Wilhite, who confirmed she had entered a lease agreement with Ryan Stanley, general manager of Snow King, to allow up to 20 people to occupy the house.

When Morris spoke to Stanley he “confirmed that he made the lessor aware that the residence would be used as employee housing and would contain more than three unrelated persons,” Morris said.

The residential lease was agreed upon to house employees of Snow King Mountain Resort for $9,000 a month, according to a copy of the lease. The lease was supposed to be valid from June 1 to Sept. 5, 2017.

Stanley had no comment when the News&Guide reached him by phone Tuesday.

Stanley received a verbal citation from the town of Jackson but no charges have been filed against him.

It’s not the first time Wilhite has been investigated for illegal rentals. She entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the town of Jackson in 2016, pleading guilty to operating an illegal short-term rental. She was ordered to complete 45 days of community service in Teton County and pay a $750 fine.

During Morris’ investigation in late July 2017, Wilhite asked Morris if she could keep the agreement she had with Snow King, documents state.

“I explained to Wilhite that I cannot do that as she is breaking an ordinance of allowed use and that she has a recent history of violation for illegal short-term rental with the town of Jackson in which she was successfully prosecuted,” Morris wrote. “Wilhite explained to me that if the current use of the property is denied then her contract with Snow King Mountain Resort will be terminated, creating a financial hardship.”

The most recent tenants were given until Aug. 3 at midnight to find new housing. Wilhite was ordered to convert the house back to a single-family unit.

“Both Stanley and Wilhite politely argued a case that it does not leave adequate time for the tenants to acquire new housing,” Morris wrote. “I reminded them both that they are complicit and responsible for any inconvenience incurred by the current tenants.”

On Aug. 4 Wilhite told Morris she “kicked out all the renters” and planned to move back into the house.

“It’s a quality-of-life issue,” Colasuonno said Tuesday.

A court date has not yet been set, according to Municipal Court Clerk Jessica Chitwood.

This version of the article has been modified to reflect the correct type of citation Stanley received. — Ed.

Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066, courts@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGcourts.

Emily Mieure covers criminal justice and emergency news. She also leads the News&Guide’s investigative efforts. She has reported for WDRB TV in Louisville, Ky., WFIE TV in Evansville, Ind., and WEIU TV in Charleston, Ill.

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(3) comments

Sandy Noff

They both knew they were breaking the law when they entered into their contract. Looks like the punishment needs to be harsher for those who deliberately break the law knowing they'll just have to do community service and pay a small fine!!

Shane Rothman

Poor example set by one of the largest employers in the valley. Would like to know more about how many employees they have, and what they have historically done to house their growing workforce. Hope to see more info in Wednesday's paper.

John Sinson

Another business who doesn't want to pay their workers enough to live here and breaks the law. 15 renters?

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