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Teton County, Wyo. commissioners discuss development freeze

Could overdevelopment become a problem in western Wyoming?

People living in Teton County are asking just that, and commmissioners are proposing a temporary development freeze.

If that freeze is approved, it would probably be lifted by the end of this year, according to the Teton County Commissioner Hank Phibbs. Phibbs said homeowners, developers and county leaders just need some time to come up with a plan.

“I love having animals go through my yard all the time,” said Susan Brooks, who lives in Teton County.

The county also known as “Jackson Hole” is home to some of the most sought-after real estate in the country, but with too much real estate comes concerns that there will be fewer reasons to want to live in the area.

“I like the rural quality,” Brooks said.

County commissioners want to come up with a new land use plan.

“Here’s the issue,” Phibbs explained. “Our updated plan contains a policy and a revision to reduce the development density in the rural areas of the county.”

Still, Phibbs said the community needs time to think it through.

“What the public gets — the quality of the open space, and the reserved rights of the landowner to develop their property in the manner and location that they desire — it’s a balance that needs to take place,” Phibbs said.

Until then, Phibbs and his fellow commissioners are getting ready to vote on a measure that would freeze medium- and large-scale developments in unincorporated areas.

The exact terms of the moratorium haven’t been figured out, but Phibbs believes it won’t allow more than three units to be built per 35 acre parcel.

Homeowners are split on the proposed measure.

“Nobody will want to be here anymore,” Brooks said. “And we’ll become Vail, or something!”

“You have to have change,” said a Teton County man in favor of development.

“We really like controlled growth,” said Barbara Knobe, another Teton County homeowner. “But we also do need to have a place for people to be able to live.”

Phibbs is optimistic that an agreement will happen. He also does not believe a development moratorium will impact the local economy.

Calls to several developers who are in on the conversation were not returned.

The Teton County commissioners will vote on the measure on Tuesday, Feb.19.

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