JACKSON HOLE, WYO \u2013 The takeaway from a town meeting Monday night where a restaurateur wished to build a large apartment complex to house his employees and other lower-income members of the local workforce was this: It ain\u2019t about you, Joe. Council members balked again on a text amendment to land development regulations (LDRs) that would allow Joe Rice\u2019s Sagebrush Apartments to skirt around current regulations that say when a developer builds something, he\/she must mitigate the impacts of their development by providing affordable housing. Rice argued that his entire project was inherently affordable housing\u2014some 90 or so apartments\u2014and thought current LDRs should be changed to remove barriers to private sector engagement in creating workforce housing. Councilmembers agreed the apartment project had merit but three of the four in attendance last Monday were not prepared to alter LDRs for a few reasons. There was no guarantee the development could one day be sold, for example, and new owners could jack rents as high as the market would bear. Electeds also were made uneasy by the lack of restrictions concerning who could live in the apartments. \u201cWhen we craft policy it's not about who\u2019s a good guy or what promises are made,\u201d councilman Jim Stanford said. \u201cThe only way to deal with landlords is through deed restriction. I think deed restriction is important. That said, I think there is some merit to this project. People obviously support this specific project. But it's not about the assurances made here today.\u201d Former Housing Authority head Christine Walker spoke on behalf of the applicant saying, \u201cCurrent rules discourage these developments. There is a reason there have been no apartment projects in the last 20 years from the private sector. The system is broken and it needs to be fixed. We need to change rules not just for this project but for all the private sector to get rid of barriers and make it easier.\u201d Walker received assurance from town planners that if the Sagebrush Apartment development were ever sold, old LDR rules would then kick in, requiring the new owner to build 20 affordable units for every 100 units on the ground. Still, it wasn\u2019t enough to dissuade Mayor Pete Muldoon. \u201c are the Holy Grail of workforce units. They\u2019re extremely valuable to the community,\u201d Muldoon stated. \u201cThey can only be rented to people who work here, who make no more than 120 percent of area median income, and do not own any residential real estate. These deed restrictions last forever, and they are an extremely valuable public asset that benefits those most in need.\u201d Muldoon added that there would be no actual restrictions on who could live in the apartments Rice was proposing. \u201cThe free market is not interested in providing affordable housing. The free market has one goal, and that goal is maximizing profit,\u201d Muldoon stated. Rice defended his request, saying, \u201cYou can't keep employees when you can't house employees. People come up to me all the time and ask, \u2018What is the issue?\u2019 And I go, \u2018I don\u2019t know.\u2019 It's easier to get a hotel approved than this. How many people have come to you with a 90-unit apartment building? I would venture to say zero. Because at the end of the day it's all about the money .\u201d Councilwoman Hailey Morton-Levinson was the sole town leader to back the text amendment, which had the approval of the town\u2019s planning department. \u201cI agree with staff. Apartments are part of the solution and want to see them built,\u201d she said. \u201cI stand by the Housing Action Plan that says we should be looking for ways to remove barriers to workforce housing. I think it's kind of funny that 20 percent of zero is zero when you get nothing built.\u201d Stanford encouraged Rice to simply try his apartment project through a PUD [planned-use development)\u2014a more specified tool that would apply to his project only. \u201cThis is a text amendment that is supposed to be approved for generic projects. If we wanted to consider the benefits of this particular projects, wouldn\u2019t it be best to do so through PUD?\u201d the councilman asked. Rice has a PUD version of Sagebrush already in the process and scheduled for an upcoming meeting. That route, however, takes longer and is more expensive for developers. But it would, argued Stanford and Muldoon, provide more guaranteed affordable housing into perpetuity for the tradeoffs Rice was asking for. Rice and company said they will bring back the text amendment one more time when Don Frank is present. The councilman missed Monday\u2019s meeting, but has expressed his backing of the proposal to change LDRs. Still, that would likely result in a 3-2 vote against, as councilman Bob Lenz also appears to be balking at the request. \u201cI just assume doing it with a PUD,\u201d Lenz said. \u201cA text amendment is just a little more than I can handle.\u201d Rice\u2019s project will once again come before the council at their next regularly scheduled meeting on April 4.