‘Hole’ condo plan advances

With a new condominium complex on North Glenwood making its way through the public review process, elected officials struggled Monday to reconcile the proliferation of high-end dwellings with the loss of the cheap homes that they will replace.

The Town Council took its first look Monday at the proposal for the site popularly known as the “Hole in the Ground.” Though officials approved a sketch plan, they lamented the apparent incompatibility of the project with the town’s stated mission of fostering housing within financial reach of the average working person.

“What are we really gaining,” Councilor Jonathan Schechter said, “by the fact that this project is going to end up costing us some of these precious homes where regular folks are living right now?”

However, the plans are fully within the town’s land development regulations. All 29 units will sell at market rate, and 15 will be short-term rentals. Five will be deed restricted as workforce housing, but that doesn’t make them more affordable.

S.R. Mills, chief executive of Wisconsin-based Bear Development, the company building the condos, said he would have liked to build cheaper housing instead. He said he has done so in other places around the country, but in Teton County, “it’s a tough nut to crack.”

“We just don’t have the tools in the toolbox right now,” he said. “We’ve been working hard to try and figure something out, but it’s been a tough row to hoe.”

Brigid Mander and Andrew Jakovak, two of the residents in the buildings slated for demolition, said they spoke to Mills about a compromise that would preserve the existing housing on the south side of the project.

Mills confirmed that he is open to such conversations, but it’s far from clear whether they will result in any change to the plan the council approved, which still includes redevelopment of the homes.

Mayor Pete Muldoon said he would like to pursue options for saving the buildings, which the Teton County Historic Preservation Board has also deemed historically significant. But for now the council has given the project a green light, taking consolation in the fact that it will replace a long-standing eyesore.

“I wish you the best of success,” Muldoon said, “in covering up that hole in the ground.”

Town clerk is records contact

The town of Jackson has designated an official point of contact for records requests, clarifying where citizens can go to obtain public documents.

All government agencies are required by law to release certain documents and information upon request. But until now, said Griffin Hay, a legal intern with the town, the point of contact was “whoever got handed the application for the request.

“It’s just easier to tell the public ‘This is the one place to go,’” he said.

That one place is the town clerk, Sandy Birdyshaw, who can be contacted at 733-3932 ext. 1113, or at sbirdyshaw@jacksonwy.gov.

The formal designation comes after the Wyoming Legislature amended it’s public records law in the 2019 session to state that “each governmental entity shall designate a person to receive all applications for public records.” Hay said the change will streamline records requests, improving the town’s ability to quickly and efficiently deliver information.

“Your public is going to come, they’re going to want to know what their government is doing,” he said. “When they come to do that … you don’t want your records scattered around.”

Contact Cody Cottier at 732-5911, town@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGtown.

Cody Cottier covers town and state government. He grew up with a view of the Olympic Mountains, and after graduating Washington State University he traded it for a view of the Tetons. Odds are the mountains are where you’ll find him when not on deadline.

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