County may add conditions before allowing more density on Gills' 74 acres

It will take a few more weeks before all is said and done with a Gill family proposal to build hundreds of homes on ranch land in northern South Park.

The Teton County Board of County Commissioners voted 5-0 Tuesday to delay a decision on the family’s request to upzone 74 acres of their Jackson Hole Hereford Ranch.

The Gill family wants to develop up to 312 lots on the property. The rezone has been hotly debated for months. Some community members see the rezone as paving the way for workforce housing while others contend a neighborhood plan must be finished first to guarantee that the homes are ultimately affordable for workers.

Planning Director Chris Neubecker and the Teton County Planning Commission have both recommended that the County Commission, which has final say, deny the upzone to complete a neighborhood plan before increasing the density of development allowed.

In contrast to the first Planning Commission hearing, when the recommending body heard from many people requesting denial, the 20-some people at Tuesday’s hearing offered more support for the Gill’s proposed development. Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Teton Area, which would receive 30 or 40 of the 312 lots as a gift, rallied five employees and board members to speak up for approving the rezone.

“If we can all agree that there is a crisis here,” Executive Director Kris Greenville said, “why wait or slow down part of the conversation?”

Volunteer firefighter Jason Bruni likewise urged the commission to approve the rezone, comparing it to feeding the hungry. Bruni said he volunteers at the Good Samaritan Mission.

“You can give somebody a peanut butter sandwich to give them the calories they need, or you can give them a meal and help them feel like a human again,” he said. “Giving real housing to the people who live here ... is more than just putting up housing for the sake of housing. It’s making us feel like real community members for what we provide.”

Five of the 20 or so people who testified spoke against the rezone. Educator Miles Yazzolino argued that more attention needed to be given to affordability beyond the Habitat donations.

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Posted by Stefani
Sep 22, 2020