Teton Valley is experiencing another growth spurt. The last one ended in 2007 when the Great Recession left the valley covered in the blight of zombie developments.

This growth spurt may not end so abruptly and that’s OK.

It’s OK provided that zombie developments aren’t replaced with a valley overrun by daily vacation rental units.

Like acne, these daily vacation rentals are popping up everywhere. They are inexpensive to build, but expensive to rent. They are replacing affordable housing. We need affordable housing. We don’t need hundreds of vacation rentals.

The result of this recent growth spurt is already clear: the exodus of service providers who have been the backbone of our local economy. Teachers can’t afford to live here. Restaurant workers are in short supply. And forget about finding a plumber to fix that leaky pipe.

There is a defensive mechanism that can help control this irresponsible short sighted development.

Vacation rentals should be built in designated locations that are currently undeveloped. They should not be built in existing platted developments where current owners agreed to Codes, Covenants and Restrictions (CCR’s) under the management of a Home/Condo owners association that prohibits vacation rentals. Most platted developments in Teton Valley have CCR’s. Teton Creek Resort, Teton Saddleback Vistas and Teton Reserve all have them. The development I represent also has them. CCR’s are valuable in that they provide a potential buyer a clear sense of all aspects of what they are about to buy.

However, existing CCR’s often get in the way of a Developers plan to generate big profits by building cookie cutter vacation rental properties on the left behind zombie development land they bought as the Great Recession itself receded.

Their solution? Hire a team of lawyers and try to void those protective CCR’s and all of those nicer quality architectural requirements.

It’s happening right now.

When HOA leadership realizes they’ve been hoodwinked, it is too often too late. Property owners have a right to know that what was memorialized in the CCR’s at the time of purchase will not be negated by replacement developers and their clever lawyers.

If you belong to an HOA, or are part of an HOA leadership team, do not respond to any developer or lawyer requests to meet and discuss your neighborhood CCR’s. Get your own lawyer or at very least, call Valley Advocates for Responsible Development for some guidance.

Frank M Russo