Hoback Junction

Water quality issues like those in Hoback became a central point in the process of updating the 2012 Jackson/Teton County Comprehensive Plan.

The town and county approved an update to the 2012 comp plan last week, capping over a year of work.

“I truly believe that this update will be a huge advancement to this community,” Jackson’s Community Development Director Tyler Sinclair said during a Nov. 2 meeting. “We should be commended for stopping, pausing, updating the plan, challenging ourselves to do better.”

The Teton County Board of County Commissioners and Jackson Town Council both voted to slow the update this spring after the coronavirus landed in Teton County and staff released a draft update without a redline markup of changes, drawing consternation from community members.

“I think largely this plan has set us up for success over the next four or five, six, seven years until we check in again,” Sinclair said.

The comp plan is a metric against which planners, developers and elected officials evaluate land-use decisions in Jackson Hole, and a framework that staff and electeds will use to create or modify binding land development regulations in the coming years.

The process for updating the document is called the growth management program and was triggered in 2019 after the town and county reported a 5% growth in residential building permits.

That fall, over 900 people gave public comments during a few public meetings in the first phase of the update. The document was then kicked to the Town Council and County Commission, which spent months debating finer points in the plan.

The public was then given another chance to weigh in, and the vote Nov. 2 was the final installment in the saga.

Conversation earlier this year led to changes in sections about northern South Park, where the Gill and Lockhart families are both looking to develop their land.

But the changes in the plan are broader than that, with alterations and additions to language about housing, conservation, climate change, growth and the local economy.

In recent weeks, discussion has focused on water quality and, on Nov. 2, Brad Nielson, the president of Protect Our Water Jackson Hole, successfully lobbied the county commissioners to include language that broadened the scope of a strategy calling for a “water quality enhancement plan” to include a wastewater management plan. The county and Teton Conservation District are already partnering with the nonprofit to complete such a plan.

Otherwise, changes are myriad.

Some focus on personnel, like two calling for hiring a staff ecologist and transportation-focused staff person. For years the town and county have tossed around the idea of hiring a transportation director that would oversee START and other transit initiatives.

Others focus on the economy, like language expanding the scope of housing mitigation rates, which both boards voted to cut under threat from the state, beyond traditional “brick and mortar” businesses.

Still others zero in on the environment, like a change calling for investigating “adaptation measures” in language about an emissions reduction and climate action plan.

The staff report including the full scope of changes to the comp plan is attached to the online version of this article at JHNewsAndGuide.com.

This article was updated to correct the name of the Teton Conservation District. — Ed.

Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7063 or barnold@jhnewsandguide.com.

Teton County Reporter

Previously the Scene editor, Billy Arnold made the switch to the county beat where he's interested in exploring Teton County as a model for the rest of the West. When he can, he still writes about art, music and whatever else suits his fancy.

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