JACKSON HOLE, WYO – A special meeting of the Board of County Commissioners yesterday amounted to little more than an exercise in advanced Robert’s Rules of Order. Tangled in a reconsideration of a vote taken last week, commissioners ended up agreeing to erase their thumbs down of the 440 W. Kelly housing project.
“I am reconsidering this because I want to honor the town’s zoning. We can sometimes get sideways with the town because they want to control the zoning in the county and say no to things we want to do in the county, and vice-versa,” said commissioner Greg Epstein at a special meeting of the BCC Tuesday. “Secondly, I think, as the government, we’re going to have to lead the way. After having some discussions with people over the past week, we’re just going to have to step in there and put in a development that is manageable for the neighborhood.”
Epstein admitted the 16-unit proposal he and his peers shot down last week was probably too dense a project so he asked fellow commissioner Mark Newcomb whether he would withdraw his original motion and/or make a new one for 12 units or 10 units.
Newcomb hesitated at reducing the project even further (it was originally zoned and slated for up to 24 units), saying 10 or 12 units would likely require even higher subsidy in addition to the $1.7M purchase price for the property and would not be a prudent use of taxpayer money.
“I really can’t go back from 16 to 12,” Newcomb said.
Commissioner Luther Propst said he might be amenable to a 10-unit version.
“I think if we were to go 10 units, that is still quite a leap. Ten units on that property with the support of the neighbors is better in the long-term for our housing program than 16 units with opposition from the neighbors,” he said.
Commissioner Mark Barron reminded his colleagues that he championed 10 units all along.
“I stood strong on 10 units; 12 would be palatable,” Barron said. “We can afford to be a little more lenient and compassionate with that neighborhood. If it eventually turns into large developments, so be it.”
Chair Natalia Macker cut off discussion on 10- 0r 12-unit, reiterating that the issue at hand was whether the board wanted to reconsider its previous 2-3 vote to deny a 16-unit housing development at 440 W. Kelly after the town passed its same motion. Macker added that she did not wish to play ping-pong with a town council that was not present by coming up with different potential versions of a project.
In the end, Newcomb withdrew his motion from July 23 meaning, in effect, it never happened. That leaves the town and county to again revisit together a housing project at 440 W. Kelly at a future date—this one undoubtedly to be a scaled back iteration in the 10-12 unit range.