After a few false starts—first tabled in August, scheduled for a special meeting on Oct. 7, rescheduled to Oct. 9, then tabled that Friday to be taken back up on Oct. 13—the Teton Board of County Commissioners voted 2-1 to deny the Teton Creek Resort insignificant plat amendment during its regular meeting last Tuesday.
As one of the first large scale developments approved in Teton County in the early 1990s, Teton Creek Resort on Ski Hill Road was platted to include hundreds of single-family homes, duplexes, condominiums, and commercial buildings on either side of the road west of Stateline. It was the subject of litigation in 1997, and in the settlement agreement for that case, the county agreed to uphold the planning and zoning commission’s conditions of approval which included the submission of a final site plan and architectural and landscape drawings before ground was broken.
The first phase of the planned unit development south of Teton Creek along Stateline Road was never built out and the land was sold off to a Jackson developer in 2014. Now the developer, Harry Statter, has applied for an insignificant plat amendment to develop 16 modular single-family units on one three-acre lot. Those units are described as condominiums in the PUD. Per Teton County code, a condominium is only an ownership model, not a kind of building.
The county planning department explained why it was not a significant plat amendment, which would necessitate public hearings, in the staff report: “This represents no change, increase, or decrease in direct or indirect impacts on the neighborhood or vicinity of the subdivision or overall community that have not already been considered in the approval of the PUD as amended.”
Renewed development on the property has caused consternation among adjacent homeowners, who wrote to the BOCC and spoke in person at Tuesday’s meeting about wildlife in the creek corridor and impacted property values. Affronted by the thought of modular homes in Teton Creek Resort, one commenter referred to the new development as a trailer park.
Herb Heimerl, the attorney representing the owner, said he believed the proposed development was in compliance with the settlement agreement from 1997 and the existing plat. He noted that the units planned for the site are single family stick-built modular houses, not manufactured houses. “People are always concerned about development that occurs near their property,” he said on Oct. 9, effectively calling the opponents of the development NIMBYs.
Commissioner Bob Heneage offered up a motion he had drafted with help from the county prosecuting attorney; he moved to deny the insignificant plat amendment because it entailed significant changes to the length of the subdivision road and the amount of impervious surfaces in the neighborhood (in the form of driveways) as well as the layout and footprints of the units.
“If it was truly an insignificant change, we would not have this kind of major public outcry,” Commissioner Cindy Riegel agreed.
Commissioner Harley Wilcox voted against denying the application, saying that the definition of impervious surfaces was not clear. Tension between Wilcox and Riegel arose when he made his oft-repeated complaint that Heneage and Riegel had come into the meeting already having made a decision. Riegel retorted that they had deliberated during the special meeting on Oct. 9, a meeting Wilcox missed. He said he was out of town and had not been given adequate notice of the meeting.
The developer could resubmit the application as a significant plat amendment, which would go through the public hearing process with both the planning and zoning commission and the BOCC.