land use code

Valley resident Greta Procious asks county commissioner Bob Heneage some questions about the new county land development code draft during an open house on April 28. Procious had concerns about some of the regulations laid out in the draft, including limitations on beekeeping and fence heights.

Residents and property owners will have an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed new Teton County Land Development Code during a public hearing before the county planning and zoning commission on the evening of May 18.

The draft code (available to view on the county website) was released to the public on April 13, and a lively Facebook group was founded soon thereafter for people to comb through the document and express their concerns about the proposals. Kevin Mayberry, who created the group, Teton Valley Development Code For All, was interviewed on Newstalk 107.9 on April 29 and said he was forming an organization “to fight against the gentrification of the area,” and that he would be soliciting donations.

“Everyone needs to write to P&Z in order to have our voices heard,” Mayberry said. On May 1 he announced that the new organization, Free Teton Valley, will be hosting a BBQ at the fairgrounds on May 8 where people can learn more about the code and sign letters to P&Z and the county commissioners.

The county hosted its own official public information sessions last week at the Driggs City Plaza.

“The biggest community concerns we’re hearing is bees and fences,” said Teton County Commissioner Bob Heneage, who was at each open house to speak with attendees. As a member of the steering committee that has been tasked over the last two years with producing a code that reflects the county’s 2012 comprehensive plan, he said he’s “better at the 30,000-foot view,” and that the county’s professional planners are better suited to addressing the specific restrictions in the code.

Some of those restrictions that have caught people’s eye, and ire, are limitations on beekeeping and fence heights. “Those are going to the top of the list,” Heneage said about future edits to the draft, and called some of the restrictions missteps. (The new code proposes a maximum of ten bee colonies on a parcel, while the old code only allows a maximum of eight colonies; however, the new code would require a permit and more rigorous setbacks for a beekeeping operation. This is just one example of regulations that vocal residents have found concerning.)

“We want everyone to comment, we want your feedback, we want to incorporate it into the final draft,” he told one resistant community member during an open house on April 28.

The existing code, written by a firm from Coeur D’Alene in the nineties, can be difficult to find and appears broken in some places on the county website; a search of the archives is required.

Submit comments on the proposed code by emailing by 5 p.m. on May 10, or attend the P&Z hearing in person or virtually at 5 p.m. on May 18. The P&Z commissioners are requesting constructive comments that address specific pages, sections, and paragraphs.

The meeting will be held in the commissions’ chambers at the county courthouse as well as on Zoom, but the location could change depending on how many people are expected to attend in person.

After P&Z reviews and edits the draft based on public input, the revised document will go before the board of commissioners for a second public hearing. Find a meeting schedule on the county website under “Minutes and Meeting Info.”