The sketch plan for an 84 unit subdivision located on 26 acres at 1500 South Park Loop Rd. was approved by the Board on March 2. Photo: Sketch Plan 2020-0001

JACKSON, Wyo. — During the regular Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday morning, March, 2, the Board voted in favor of approving the Sketch plan for an 84 unit subdivision on the 26 acres of land at the corner of South Park Loop Rd and Dairy Lane, owned by the Gill family, JHHR Holdings, LLC. 

The sketch plan does not include any workforce housing, all of the homes will be sold at market rate. A workforce housing fee-in-lieu will be required at the time of issuance of a building permit for any homes with habitable square footage over 2,500 square feet, if the units are under 2,500 square feet, then no affordable housing or workforce housing fees-in-lieu will be required.

According to the application, “As up to 83 units will be constructed, said fees could have a positive impact on the affordable housing efforts of the Jackson/Teton Affordable Housing Department if the units developed exceed this threshold.” 

While Commissioner Luther Propst took issue with the lack of workforce housing, Commissioner Greg Epstein defended how the land was zoned. “This is a legacy zone, it’s suburban, there was never anything about this zone that said they had to include workforce housing, aside from the fee in lieu. So let’s not fool ourselves into thinking this was going to be rezoned into something else because it wasn’t.” 

New State legislation also created more complications for the board to reach a decision. Chief Deputy Attorney Keith Gingery explained Senate file 157. He said, “Yesterday a bill was filed in the Wyoming legislature, senate file 157 property rights, limitation on authority. In that bill, there is a section that reads, “no board of county commissioners shall base the denial of a zoning certificate or other zoning decisions on the nonexistence of a connection agreement of lack of connection agreement to the public sewerage or water supply system.”

Gingery went on to explain that if that bill were to pass, condition #7 in the sketch plan might be voided. Condition #7 states, “the applicant shall submit their development plan application no earlier than December 31, 2021, which shall include a willingness to serve letter or other letter evidencing commitment from the town of Jackson or connection to public (municipal) water and sewer facilities.” 

“So let’s say Dec. 31st comes and they don’t have that letter yet, or the town has decided not to give them that letter by Dec. 31, the question becomes, does this bill make that condition go away,” said Gingery, adding, “when we have applications that are already pending we cant suddenly put a moratorium on them. The legislature is a little different, they can pass laws that can affect, especially when you actually haven’t issued the final zoning certificate yet.”

With the new development from the state legislature, the board was still forced to vote on the sketch plan. “The applicant is demanding an up or down vote pursuant to the LDRs,” said Gingery.  

Commissioner Propst was outspokenly against approving the sketch plan. He said, “Given the uncertainty, I find that completely unacceptable in a community where we are trying our best to improve water quality. I think anything that we that increases the probability of a package plan, even with the protestations of the applicant, is not in the public interest and does not meet the findings.”

Towards the end of the meeting, Commissioner Macker suggested adding a 12th condition that will require the applicant to submit a commitment from the town for the connection to public water and sewer, in an attempt to combat senate file 157.

“If one of them became nullified for any reason, that the other one wouldn’t be in jeopardy of also benign nullified”, said Macker. The 12th condition, presented by Commissioner Mark Barron states, “the applicant shall submit with their development plan permit application a willingness to serve letter or other evidencing commitment from the Town of Jackson for connection to public (municipal) water and sewer facilities.”

Trust was also discussed by the commissioners throughout the meeting. Commissioner Newcomb said, “I really mostly lament the fact that due to a number of circumstances trust between the community and the applicant is at rock bottom, and I think thats tragic giving the opportunity thats in front of us and I truly wish there were a way forward that would reflect a commitment to rebuilding trust and reflect a commitment to getting the kind of visions in place through the neighborhood plan that we know we are capable of and executing on that vision.”

“When we are looking at findings, I can’t consider trust in the landowner, to me that is irrelevant, and again thats aid out of nothing but respect for the gills ad their stewardship, but it’s not a legitimate factor, we should not be considering the history, the leadership, the desire for trust,” said Commissioner Propst.

“A vote today will push more of our workforce out of town because we will be building 84 luxury homes with little if any workforce housing and we are going to worsen traffic congestion in an already congested area,” said Commissioner Propst.

The motion carried 4-1 with Commissioner Propst against. The application will now move into the development phase.

Buckrail @ Lindsay

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.