The town and county compromised Monday night on a debate over who should take charge in planning northern South Park, cueing up the release of a draft update of the 2012 Jackson/Teton County Comprehensive Plan for public review.

The decision came in an unanimous vote from the county and a 3-2 vote from the town that gave the green light to publish the document with language giving the county the lead role in planning the area, where the Gill and Lockhart families are both proposing large upzones for housing developments, "in consultation with the town."

Other language that Commissioner Mark Newcomb approved in a bid to broker compromise was also added, clarifying that the county would forge ahead with the neighborhood plan with town zoning standards in mind.

What the county's inclusion of the town's standards and elected officials will look like remains to be seen. The final draft of the plan has not been released yet.

The decision provoked strong feelings on both sides.

Newcomb was vocal about not loving every aspect of the comp plan update. He has said multiple times, for example, that he does not believe now is the time to develop northern South Park because he believes town infill has not been sufficiently completed. But he recognized that the wheels had been spinning for a long time and passionately argued for getting the document out to the public for review.

"This is not the final plan," he said. "We're just trying to get it out to the public for comment so good grief, let's just put this thing to rest."

Mayor Pete Muldoon and Councilor Jonathan Schechter cast the two votes against releasing the plan.

"I feel as a party to the comp plan or a representative of a party to the comp plan" — the town — "I should have a voice throughout this process," Muldoon said. "I want to ensure that I do and I don't think this language gets us there, so I can't support the motion."

Councilor Arne Jorgensen, who voted for releasing the update, did so with a word of caution.

"I would be willing to vote for this to move it into the public realm," Jorgensen said, "but there is an all caps caveat that goes along with that and that is if we continue to get resistance from the county in terms of meaningful discussion about what the neighborhood plan looks like and how that discussion would play out, I would not be comfortable voting for this in a final review."

This is a developing story.

Pick up a copy of the Wednesday Jackson Hole News&Guide for a full recap of the discussion and what's next.

Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7063 or

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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