Alongside his personal campaign for office, Town Council candidate Judd Grossman is collecting signatures to put the town’s recently approved zoning updates to a referendum.
Grossman is circulating a petition that could give residents a vote on new land development regulations, which determine how Jackson’s land can be used. The council spent more than a year adjusting the regulations for various parts of town and just finalized them last week.
Throughout the process, Grossman frequently opposed the new zoning, which will grant additional growth in certain neighborhoods.
“This is a really big deal,” he said. “It’s a reshaping of all the neighborhoods in town, and I’m not sure if the public’s totally sure of the implications of that.”
The updates allow the town to absorb 1,800 units of development potential from rural Teton County in an attempt to centralize the town’s workforce and minimize adverse effects on open spaces.
Grossman believes development should be limited to already dense areas, particularly the West Broadway commercial corridor. He argues that distributing density around Jackson’s periphery, as the town has done in some cases, will exacerbate traffic and overpopulation problems, and alter the character of neighborhoods whose residents prize tranquil streets and neighbors.
Grossman also said the new housing units could quickly become unaffordable for the average person unless they are deed-restricted for workforce occupancy. He said the best estimate he has found is that 900 of the 1,800 units being added to Jackson from the county will not be deed-restricted.
Alex Norton, Teton County’s long range planner, said there are no definitive estimates yet. But he argued that deed restrictions on even half the units — on top of new mitigation requirements that require developers and businesses to house a certain percentage of the employees their projects generate — would help solve Jackson’s housing problem.
“That’s a massive step toward the solution,” Norton said.
He added that he feels Grossman is focusing mainly on one aspect of the issue. Holistically, the new zoning follows the town’s overarching goal of shifting residential development out of rural areas and into complete neighborhoods, the largest of which is the town.
“It’s the yin and the yang,” Norton said. “And if you just look at one side of it, it’s a very different story than when you look at the package together.”
Grossman said that based on state statutes, he has until Aug. 7 to collect about 540 signatures, or 10 percent of registered voters, to send the zoning updates to a referendum. So far he has about 40.