440 West Kelly Ave.

Town and county officials are considering giving the town complete control over the project 440 W. Kelly Ave., seen here at center with tan siding and a green roof. In turn the county would get control of a property in The Aspens.

As officials face an impasse on an affordable housing project at 440 W. Kelly Ave., one option back on the table is for the town to take it over.

Right now, the town and county both have an ownership stake — and a say in what happens at — two parcels at 440 W. Kelly and 3590 N. Kennel Lane in The Aspens, known as the “Raines property.”

The two bodies agreed in July to list the Raines property, which is zoned for a single-family home and guesthouse, for sale, and use the proceeds for other housing projects. It’s listed for $2.2 million.

But after half a dozen meetings the two elected bodies can’t agree on a plan to build a housing project on their Kelly Avenue property.

Dominating the dispute is the question of the appropriate level of density for the site: Most town councilors want to go with a 16-unit proposal, while most county commissioners say that’s too much.

At the latest meeting Oct. 7, the Town Council voted in favor of taking over complete control of the 440 W. Kelly project and, in exchange, handing over the reins to the county when it comes to the Raines property.

The county, though, shot down the proposed swap, nullifying the town’s approval.

On Monday, County Commissioner Mark Newcomb asked the county board for a chance to reconsider, which could swing the vote.

Commissioners agreed unanimously to reconsider at the next joint town and county meeting scheduled for Nov. 4. Newcomb said he wants a “clean slate” to reconsider the motion.

“I was looking for an opportunity to see if that could be couched in more policy, or if policy could be built up around it,” Newcomb said. “I wanted to make sure we were in good standing and able to cover all our bases in any sort of legal consideration.”

Commissioners Natalia Macker and Greg Epstein voted Oct. 7 for the deal that would transfer title for the Kelly Avenue property to the town and the Raines property to the county. Town Councilors Pete Muldoon, Hailey Morton-Levinson and Arne Jorgensen also supported the swap.

Newcomb said that in addition to more detailed information from staff, he would like to see a chance for the public to weigh in on such a deal.

Contact Allie Gross at 732-7063 or county@jhnewsandguide.com.

Allie Gross covers Teton County government. Originally from the Chicago area, she joined the News&Guide in 2017 after studying politics and Spanish at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

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