Electeds agree South Park is place for growth as they revise Comp Plan

JACKSON, Wyo. – As town and county leaders work methodically through revisions of the 2012 Comp Plan, a few areas of interest have pushed to the forefront, and tried the patience of some electeds.

The vision of the community hasn’t changed since that very first Comprehensive Plan in 1978, planning director Tyler Sinclair pointed out during a joint meeting earlier this week. We still value our abundance of wildlife and rich habitat, and want to preserve that with smart growth.

What has emerged in recent years is an intensifying of an age-old problem: housing. In town, new housing development projects have been popping up on the radar—N. King, 440 W. Kelly, Hidden Hollow—but it has been more difficult to identify so-called nodes in the county.

Aspens and Wilson have fallen out of favor as potential growth areas. Stilson may one day be on the table. It is infill south of town to the new Munger Mountain Elementary School that appears to be the odds-on favorite of late. Infrastructure is mostly in place thanks to highway expansion and beefed up water/sewer.

But, still, no progress has been made putting houses on the ground as elected officials, for the most part, have opted to stay the course on the Comp Plan revision process rather than get out ahead of it by spot zoning a place like Hog Island or the new Gill family proposal in northern South Park.

Image: Courtesy TOJ

Gill’s South Park housing proposal caught in the process

Greg Epstein, for one, appears ready to roll before he is off the BCC at the end of the year. He asked his peers to consider fast-tracking northern South Park and revisit Hog Island.

Jim Stanford pumped the brakes on that notion.

“The emphasis on speed can be a bit reckless. The history of Jackson Hole is littered with failed plans to develop northern South Park. We need to make sure if we are going to do anything, we do it right,” he said.

“What I hear you are saying is you don’t trust the county is able to do anything,” Epstein countered before Mayor Pete Muldoon restored order to the online meeting Monday.

Councilman Arne Jorgensen also wanted to explore South Park as an obvious landing place for increased density. He urged any building in there be done to town standards, however, because of the density.

Commissioner Mark Barron led the way for the town for 17 years as mayor. Most of his time in office he railed on the county for now doing its share of affordable housing, and dumping it all on the town. Barron said he was ready to move South Park up in the discussion as long as it was ‘unhitched’ from any talks of the fairgrounds and potentially moving the rodeo, as outlined in guiding documents prepared by staff.

Councilman Jonathan Schechter sees nothing but trouble if the county tried to go it alone in northern South Park with any housing development.

The 10 electeds left the joint meeting Monday agreeing the Gill property housing proposal was a top priority but it is probably best to stay the course with Comp Plan revisions, which are nearing the finish line.

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