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A message from the Gill Family to the Jackson Community

A message from the Gill Family:

JACKSON, Wyo. —

Dear Friends, Community Residents and Commuting Local Workers,

By now you have probably heard that our family would like to rezone 74 acres of our ranchland to an existing Teton County zone called “AR-TC.” The rezone would enable a small lot, limited square footage residential neighborhood that we believe would help address the shortage of workforce housing. To demonstrate our commitment to creating opportunities for our local workforce we voluntarily placed a covenant on the 74 acres that requires 65% of those lots (approx. 200) to be dedicated to people who live and work in Teton County. In addition, we are planning to gift an unprecedented 30-40 lots to Habitat for Humanity, and to help address affordability, we are working to make the 200 deed restricted lots available at discounted prices that have not been seen in Jackson since the 1980s, aimed at between $150,000-$200,000 a lot.

We came forward with this rezone proposal in February because we believed it was the right place and the right time for the rezone request. Various development proposals had been made and rejected by the County, the latest being the Hog Island project. In rejecting that proposal, elected officials said they recognized the urgent need for a project aimed at creating local workforce housing, but that Hog Island was the wrong location.

Following the rejection of the Hog Island proposal, we were approached and encouraged by many to consider making a similar proposal for our property as soon as possible. We were reminded that, after years of community planning, Northern South Park was expressly identified in the 2012 Comprehensive Plan as the right location for additional town-density development. Our property was the right place, we were told, and the time was now. We met as a family, and we decided that it was the right time for us as well.

We have been disappointed by the course of things since then.

We have been called “greedy,” and the Town and County Planning Staff, the County Planning Commission, and the Conservation Alliance have openly opposed our requested rezone. They say they have better ideas and are demanding the implementation of yet another “neighborhood planning process” (beyond the one already outlined in the 2012 Comprehensive Plan) that will better address the need for affordable workforce housing. Despite the harsh opposition being brought to bear by these parties on the County Commissioners, so many local workers remain hopeful that our rezone request will be granted. The Commissioners will be voting on our rezone request on September 15th. If you support what we are trying to do, and believe that the time for action is now, please make your voice heard by the Commissioners.

We also want you to know that the opposition to our requested rezone and the push for another neighborhood planning process has caused us to revisit our plans regarding the 26-acres of land at the corner of High School Road and South Park Loop Road. That land, which is zoned Suburban, can be developed now. Our hope has been, and remains, to first develop the potentially rezoned 74-acres (because of its immediate impact on creating workforce housing) before developing our 26-acres of Suburban land. But now we are concerned that those pushing for a new “neighborhood plan” will seek, as part of that plan, to downzone our Suburban land—just as all of our other ranchlands have been downzoned in previous community planning exercises.

Our ability to develop the 26-acres under Suburban zoning is critical to our ability to continue ranching on our land through generations. For that reason, we are moving ahead now with an application to develop the 26-acres consistent with its current Suburban zoning rights. If we do not do that now, we believe the right to do so will be soon taken away from us by local government.

Our Teton County ranchland has been in our family for over 90 years. We have been excellent stewards of this land, and we are committed to continuing that stewardship for years to come. Like every other parcel in Teton County, our ranchland comes with private property rights. We are committed to protecting our property rights for our generation and our future generations.

We certainly respect your private property rights and thank you for respecting and understanding ours. We also thank you for your continued support of our objective to provide local housing solutions our community desperately needs. The power of “no” in this community is strong, but it doesn’t mean it’s right.

Sincerely,
The Gill Family

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