JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Central Wyoming College’s bid to shoehorn its Jackson campus into a private subdivision off Veronica Lane has met with resistance since the college announced it had purchased two lots in the Stockhouse-Patterson Addition.
The first step for the college is to secure a rezone from Commercial Residential-3 (CR-3) to Public/Semi-Public (P/SP) in addition to a sketch plan and a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). CWC purchased the double lot with $3.82M in SPET funds approved by votes in May 2017.
The Homeowners Association has concerns about the proposed size of the facility (two-story 17,358 square feet), parking it faculty and students, and the burden on the infrastructure there, particularly water/sewer and utilities.
Representatives of the HOA included attorney John Wylie. He said the size and scale of the building was not compatible with the neighborhood. He also said he would like to see some commitment from CWC to share the burden of additional costs the school will bring to the subdivision. Finally, Wylie hinted that the HOA would feel a lot more gracious as a host to a new college if the town decided to annex the street and handle the subdivision’s utilities.
Jim Stockhouse, who helped develop the subdivision in 1994, said he also had serious concerns about the college landing in his neighborhood.
CWC rep Brendan Schulte said the building could maybe be scaled back a bit but Wylie countered anything above 15k SF was a problem. Schulte also urged councilors Monday that he needed a greenlight on the zoning change at the very least right away because fundraising depended on some vote of confidence from the town.
Wylie said that would amount to a P/SP upzone in a vacuum without knowing what the building would look like, how big it would be, or what CWC was willing to bring to the table moneywise.
“It would be a blank slate. They could resell it. It opens up a lot of variables,” Wylie worried. “We can say it doesn’t affect the negotiations but I’m confident we will get a call from their attorneys tomorrow saying, ‘We got our rezone, don’t stand in our way.’ We’ve been having good negotiations, but this gives them leverage.”
Both parties assured the council they would be willing to work together to come up with an agreeable compromise. What neither was ready to do Monday night was spread out the negotiation table right there in front of town leaders and Internet lurkers watching the live stream.
And what neither had done in the month both sides had to work out their differences since the continuation granted October 1 was talk much at all. It was evident at Monday’s council meeting neither the HOA nor CWC had sat down to the table to figure anything out.
How they voted
Bob Lenz did not like the idea of granting a rezone until he knew more about the bulk, scale and design of the facility. He also wanted to see how it was going to be parked in an area of town where parking was tight.
“This is really difficult. This isn’t like two lots on a public street. This is in a private subdivision. It is incumbent on the applicant and HOA to find some agreement,” Lenz said. “And I, personally, am not interested in assuming the utilities. It’s a driveway not a street.”
Jim Stanford was not about to hide his heartburn over the predicament the town and the college was in, purchasing land for a campus before making sure all its ducks were in a row. Zoning on the lots was not appropriate and the HOA didn’t want the college there, either.
“I want to support CWC and honor the citizens’ vote and get this started,” Stanford said. “But I’m still a little bit in the dark about design, magnitude of the infrastructure upgrades required and who is going to pay for that.”
Stanford said he would like another two weeks to get some more answers.
Don Frank was ready to grant a rezone for CWC, saying it is the college that is bearing all the risk if they can’t make the HOA happy and find out the campus is not a good fit on Veronica Lane.
“They take the risk we could deny their sketch plan,” Frank reminded his colleagues. “Let’s be bold here. The community already told us to build a college. Let’s get on with that. Let’s not put roadblocks in the way of education.”
Hailey Morton Levinson agreed, saying a rezone was no guarantee the college could start building.
“This council wants to support CWC, but I don’t think there is any way we will approve a sketch plan or CUP if they can’t get everyone to the table,” Morton Levinson said. “I am comfortable going that far [with a rezone] knowing it is on CWC to make it work with the HOA.”
Mayor Pete Muldoon was for pumping the brakes and taking an extra two weeks until the council’s next scheduled meeting.
“I do think it’s important to take the time. I think it’s important to take that time now before we do something we can’t undo,” Muldoon said. As for parking, I’m usually going to make that trade [when a project is underparked] but here we are putting that burden on the HOA, and the utilities on the HOA. The public benefit of CWC is undeniable, but in this case we are asking that cost be born by a private subdivision.”
The council voted 5-0 to continue the decision to its next meeting on November 19, giving CWC and the HOA time to come closer to a future they both can live with.
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