Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s plans to use a contested lot in Teton Village for employee parking ran afoul of some Teton County planning commissioners Monday night.

“I just don’t understand why the resort thinks it doesn’t have to worry about its neighbors anymore,” Teton County Planning Commission Chairman Kasey Mateosky said.

The reason for Mateosky’s consternation was that the resort is once again asking Teton County to grant it a temporary use permit for a 2.72-acre Teton Village lot owned by Four Shadows LLC. The resort wants to once again use it as a parking lot for essential employees.

It was granted permission to do so last year, but the county’s approval of the permit was the most recent in a string of approvals over two decades.

The Teton County Board of County Commissioners has approved using the lot as a construction staging area time and time again under temporary use permits with two-or-so-year lifespans. Neighbors have sued the county commission for approving the use, arguing that while the permits may be deemed “temporary,” the continued use of the site is not.

{div class=”subscriber-only”}The lawsuit ended up in front of the Wyoming Supreme Court, where the neighbors lost.

{div class=”subscriber-only”}Adjacent landowners nonetheless gently fought the resort’s permit for last season, wondering — again — whether the use proposed was, in fact, temporary.

{div class=”subscriber-only”}The resort’s director of planning and engineering, Bill Schreiber, said at the time that he could not rule out the resort seeking to use the lot as employee parking again. But he acknowledged neighbors’ concerns, saying he would propose “something different” if the need arose.

{div class=”subscriber-only”}This year, however, he was back in front of the Planning Commission on Monday night, asking for approval to use the lot.

Doing so would open up 150 parking spaces for the resort’s employees. The resort would encourage, but not require, them to carpool, direct only essential employees to use the lot, lock the parking area between 6:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. and have a parking attendant check employee identification at the gate.

“We seriously hope we do not have to come back next year,” Schreiber told planning commissioners, saying the request was due largely to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Mark Sullivan, an attorney representing the Taybacks, neighbors who succeeded in elevating the previous permits to the Supreme Court, didn’t buy it.

In a letter, Sullivan pointed to the resort’s decision to no longer require masks on its chairlifts (though they will be required on the Aerial Tram) and said there was “no indication that JHMR will require its employees to be vaccinated, the most sure-fire way to avoid passing COVID between employees and guests.”

The resort has said it will require vaccines for all of its workers living in employee housing or employed in child care.

“JHMR’s application appears to be convenience masquerading as COVID need,” Sullivan wrote.

Teton County Planning Commissioner Alex Muromcew followed that logic.

“Is that just a guise to have more employee parking?” he asked Schreiber.

“No,” Schreiber said.

“It really comes down to doing as much as we can to try to keep from having a bunch of key employees get COVID,” he said.

“I’m really disappointed,” Mateosky said. “I’m beginning to feel that with what you’re doing and not planning that this is more of a convenience for you.”

Planning Commissioner Karen Rockey was the only commissioner to speak favorably about the proposal.

“Employees just don’t want to take it anymore,” she said. “They don’t want to be treated badly. They don’t want to have to work split shifts. They don’t want to have to get paid low wages.

“It’s hard to find people to work in this town right now. The resort is a big business for our winter season here. And if they need to provide parking to their employees to offset the concerns with regard to COVID or make it easier for them to work the long hours the resort requires, I’ll support it.”

But, she said, if the resort leaves the parking lot unattended again in the spring, as Sullivan alleged in his letter, she said she would “probably look unkindly on it.”

Commissioners ultimately voted 3-2 to recommend that county commissioners approve the permit.

Mateosky and Muromcew voted against doing so. Commissioner Sue Lurie said her vote was a “reluctant ‘Aye.’”

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

Teton County Reporter

Billy Arnold has covered government and policy since January 2020, sitting through hours of Teton County meetings so readers don't have to. He moonlights as a ski reporter, helps with pandemic coverage and sneaks away to climb when he can.

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