NSP: Electeds question public Steering Committee meetings, updates on planning process

JACKSON, Wyo. — On Monday, Planning and Building Services Director, Chris Neubecker, presented the town and county electeds with an update on the Northern South Park neighborhood planning process. The process is nearing the completion of Phase 2 which included public workshops, steering committee meetings, data collection, and stakeholder interviews.

According to Neubecker, the “project is still on budget but we believe it will be set back a month, the timeline is extended due to some situations where the contractor consultant underestimated the time to prepare for steering committee meetings.”

Neubecker reported that 20% of the $400,000 consultation budget has been used so far. The breakdown of the spending thus far in the process is outlined below.

Following the presentation by Neubecker, some elected officials raised questions about why the planning process was set back and suggested that the remaining steering committee meetings be made private.

Commissioner Newcomb said, “I feel like this process is going well, I know it’s a month behind, to get input from 390 people and to get the comments we’ve received so far, I think is significant.”

Newcomb went on to question how the process could be expedited. He said, “I’ve been supportive of making those meetings public but what I want to ensure is that we really have the right amount of time, as much time as possible when the planning commissions and the council and the commissioners will be considering the three drafts, that I think is when we hope for significant public input.”

Vice Mayor Arne Jorgensen asked Neubecker directly if making the meetings private would accelerate the process. Neubecker responded saying, “I know that there are some that have expressed that they might be more open about some of their discussions in those meetings if they were not public. But I don’t know if I could necessarily answer that,” adding, “It’s hard to say that we would move significantly faster than we already are.”

Commissioner Mark Barron also weighed in. He said, “I would suggest we make them non-public, it has been expressed by several steering committee members that they feel very constrained and unable to really express themselves, obviously we really don’t have much to show from what we have done halfway through the process.”

“Let’s take the hackamore bit off this pony and let this steering committee run,” said Barron.

The County would have to pass a resolution to make the meetings private, after taking action to make the meetings public following outcry.  The public is not permitted to comment during Steering Committee meetings but can view the meetings via Zoom. The meetings are not recorded to be viewed at later times. There was a steering committee meeting this morning with the final meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning.

No action was taken during the meeting to make the meetings private, per Board of County Commissioners Chair Natalia Mackers suggestion.

Other electeds questioned what the update was providing and what their role was in the process.

“I don’t fully understand what our role is besides investing in the process. What would happen if the town stepped away from this process? Would that make the process any more efficient, would it harm the process?” asked Councilmember Jessica Sell Chambers.

Neubecker responded saying, “the town council is obviously an important member because of your funding and it is certainly appreciated.” He also discussed how phase 3 will include scenario developments, and that “we are getting into the sexy part of it soon.”

The county and town are contributing $250,000 and $150,000 respectively to the planning process. Teton County is billed 62.5% and the Town of Jackson is billed 37.5% of every invoice.

The full update can be found here. Including attachments and data pertaining to public comment and stakeholder interview summaries.

About The Author

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.

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