On Monday, Oct. 25, the Teton County Planning & Zoning Commission held its second marathon public hearing to get input from the community on the revised version of the county land development code.
Since the first hearing in May, the commission has been meeting frequently to work through the public feedback on the initial draft. Similar to the first hearing, after the revised draft was posted online on Oct. 6, the P&Z received a huge number of emails and form letters in opposition, and a few in favor. Similar to the first meeting, the commissioners met on Oct. 25 in a nearly-full auditorium and heard two and a half hours of in-person comments and another half hour of remote comment. This time, people attempting to participate via Zoom encountered an unexpected limit of 100 attendees.
Using descriptors that ranged from “overly restrictive” to “unconstitutional” to “socialist communism,” members of the community expressed their overall view that the code is a flawed document. Only a small minority of people at the meeting advocated for a recommendation of approval to the county commissioners of the code as is.
Some of the specific concerns people had about the code included gripes with the scenic bylaw regulations, limits on home businesses, ineffective dark sky or wildland urban interface rules, the lack of incentives for affordable housing, and the decreased allowed density across parts of the valley with the elimination of the ubiquitous 2.5-acre rural residential zone.
After every person who wished to had spoken, P&Z chair Jack Haddox closed the public hearing, and rather than beginning a detail-intensive deliberation at 9:15 p.m., he made a motion to continue the meeting to this Wednesday. He told his fellow commissioners to use the time to review their notes, reread the draft, digest the comments that had been received, including many that came in after the submission deadline, and come to the meeting ready to hash out the specifics on the code. The commissioners voted unanimously to resume the conversation on Wednesday.
The meeting will continue on Oct. 27 at 5 p.m. at the courthouse. Attendees can watch in person, over Zoom, or via the county meeting portal. Although P&Z had not planned to take further comment, Teton County announced on Tuesday night that due to the limitations on number of participants on Zoom on Monday, virtual public comment will be reopened at Wednesday's meeting. Find the link to participate at the county's website.