JACKSON, Wyo. — Legacy Lodge may one day be converted into workforce housing, but not by its current landowners at Stage Stop Inc. Not yet, anyway.
That was the verdict delivered by the Board of County Commissioners yesterday, who voted 2-2 against approving Stage Stop’s Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to convert the former assisted living facility into workforce housing.
The same board approved a Planned Use Development two weeks prior, which paved the way for the property to become apartments but did not allow for any specific construction. Still, board members at the May 6 meeting all agreed the plan presented to them would require some serious discussion.
And discuss they did. Commissioners hosted more than an hour and a half’s worth of public comment and discussion about Stage Stop’s proposal. But the question at the end of the day was whether county commissioners could agree with seven things, including that it would fit with the community character of Rafter J, minimize adverse visual impacts and minimize “impacts from nuisances.”
They could not. Commissioners threw several amendments into consideration that might make the proposal a better fit: bike parking/storage, right of refusal for health and human service providers, occupancy limits. But it was too little, too late, for half of the commissioners present.
“The conditions we’re striving to put in place reflect that [the proposal] doesn’t fit with the character of Rafter J,” said Commissioner Mark Newcomb. “We’re trying to condition around the edges. It’s not the core vision that will work, based on my interpretation of desired future character of that neighborhood.”
Rafter J residents were similarly concerned about community character and the question of “nuisance.”
“We’re not anti-housing,” said Kevin Gregory on behalf of the board of directors for Rafter J’s HOA. The board’s job is to administer and enforce HOA covenants. The application before the board, Gregory said, can be “reasonably expected” to violate those covenants.
Commissioner Greg Epstein, one of the two “yes” votes, said he was disappointed in his colleagues’ reluctance and worried about the fallout of failing to greenlight workforce housing. Housing in Rafter J could have housed employees of “a lot of organizations that we enjoy and need,” he said. “And we’re gonna pass it up.”
Commissioners Epstein and Mark Barron voted in favor of approving the application. Commissioners Newcomb and Luther Propst were the “nay” votes. Board Chair Natalia Macker is on maternity leave. Applicants cannot return with another similar proposal for at least 11 months, unless commissioners allow for an exemption.