The City of Driggs will add another 60 or so acres to its northern limits after the city council approved the annexation of properties east of the highway and south of the county fairgrounds access road.
The annexation was initiated by the city in order to control development in the area, ensure compatibility with the airport, and expand city infrastructure, explained city planner Allison Ahlert at the council’s Nov. 16 meeting. The approximately 35 properties that were annexed will also be rezoned to fit within the city land use code. The planning department attempted to match the new city zones, commercial heavy and light industrial, as closely to their current county zones as possible, with similar allowed uses.
The proposal received some opposition from property owners during the first public hearing before the Driggs Planning & Zoning Commission in October. Propane companies operate within the area in question with conditional use permits from the county, and one owner was concerned that the rezone would remove their ability to expand. The city staff recommended that the council honor the existing conditional use permits and allow propane storage and sales to continue.
Some homeowners protested that if their properties were annexed, they couldn’t build upon their existing residences or build new houses on their lots. Ahlert explained to the city council that the homes are currently nonconforming uses and would go on being nonconforming uses once they were within city limits, meaning the owners can continue living in them but can’t expand them or discontinue the residential use for more than a year.
Other property owners, in particular members of the Mustang Ranch Homeowners Association, did not wish to connect to city services, having already invested in private utility infrastructure. The city agreed not to require them to hook up to city water or sewer.
With that list of concerns addressed for the most part, no one spoke in opposition at the city council public hearing on Nov. 16, although two people did express reservations about increased traffic and deteriorating conditions on Rodeo Drive.
Because Rodeo Drive, a potholed gravel road that runs from the highway to Mustang Ranch, is now a city road, it will need to be brought up to city standards. The road will be added to the city transportation plan and given a priority date by the council, after which the city will determine how to fund paving and other improvements. Driggs also plans to extend the Highway 33 pathway on the east side of the road from its current terminus north of Le Grand Pierre to the Teton County Fairgrounds.
“It seems to be like the city has gone out of its way to accommodate all involved,” Councilman Tristan Taylor said after the public hearing closed.
Council members August Christensen and Jen Calder did wonder if the commercial heavy zone, which approximately matches the current county zone for properties along the highway, was an appropriate zone for the city’s northern gateway. Ahlert confirmed that the zone fits with the city’s future land use map, and also has a design review overlay, meaning developers of commercial projects need to seek approval from the city’s design review committee before building.
Property taxes for the owners in the annexed area will increase by $158.70 per $100,000 in property value. With current development, the city will receive less than $30,000 total in additional annual property taxes and road levy funds, but because the annexed area includes the Super 8 Motel near the fairgrounds, the city anticipates collecting another $90,000 per year in lodging taxes now that the motel is inside city limits.