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The community has received mixed messages on whether the Teton County Planning & Zoning Commission would accept more public input before making a recommendation on the code to the board of county commissioners, the deciding body. This graphic from the county website seems to indicate there will not be a second P&Z public hearing, but late last month P&Z announced that there would be. 

The Teton County Planning & Zoning Commission will hold a second public hearing to take comment on the revised draft of the new land development code sometime in October.

The land development code governs all future land use proposals in the county (not within the cities) according to the county’s comprehensive plan. A steering committee composed of a county commissioner, two former P&Z commissioners, and planning staff worked for almost two years with consulting firm Logan Simpson to replace the existing code, which is decades old. The process stalled last year due to Covid but was restarted in November.

P&Z held its first public hearing on May 18 and received a huge number of mostly negative written and spoken comments regarding the draft code.

After the first public hearing, two vacancies were filled on the commission, and P&Z met almost every week to work through the many points of opposition brought up by the public and revise the draft.

The community has received mixed messages on whether the commission would accept more public input before making a recommendation on the code to the board of county commissioners, the deciding body.

According to the proposal submitted by Logan Simpson in 2019 and an op-ed from county commissioner Bob Heneage written this March, and an announcement by P&Z chair Jack Haddox on Aug. 3, the plan for the next step would be for P&Z to hold a final meeting in which it would vote to either make a recommendation of approval or denial to the board of county commissioners.

P&Z chair Jack Haddox and the BOCC debated the topic during a special meeting on July 16, acknowledging that at least one more public hearing was necessary but showing uncertainty about which body should hold the hearing, since P&Z has made substantial changes to the draft and could collect more input before forwarding it to the BOCC. Haddox announced during a work session on Aug. 3 that on Aug. 24, P&Z would make a recommendation to the county commissioners, who would hold a public hearing in September.

However, P&Z took more time than anticipated to finish work on the draft and held several more work sessions to tackle the large document. During an Aug. 23 work session, Haddox explained that P&Z would be holding a second public hearing on the code before passing it on to the county commissioners.

After a work session on Sept. 15 that was supposed to be the final one, the Logan Simpson team of consultants finished putting the commissioners’ many changes into the draft. A new version is expected to be released on the Teton County website and as a hard copy available to review by the public sometime this week; however, another work session on Sept. 21 was added to the county’s meeting schedule midday Monday.

The process has been complicated by the departure of both of the county’s planners this summer; Gary Armstrong and Joshua Chase each took planning positions closer to their homes out of county. Chase has served as a contract planner to the county in the past months, and recently the county commissioners recruited Driggs planner Leanne Bernstein to provide contract services as well. In the meantime, planning services assistant Sharon Fox has been alone in the department even as the county is inundated with land use applications. Candidates for the planner positions are being interviewed.