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Teton County building proposal opposed by community

Teton County, Idaho is hoping to build a new road and bridge facility but is getting some negative feedback from the community. Teton County Public Works Director Darryl Johnson says the current facility, which sits in downtown Driggs, is too cramped.

“We don’t have the luxury of having a piece of equipment broken down and being able to set that aside and bring other equipment in to work on any given day,” he said. “We have to move one piece of equipment out to get the other piece of equipment in to work on.”

County commissioners held a public hearing on the issue Monday afternoon. It was full of people opposed to the new location. The site sits along the Teton Creek Corridor, which is currently undergoing a $14 million restoration project. Groups are concerned this new building will harm that.

“We’re putting all this effort and, frankly, all of these resources, all of this money, into this restoration effort and then the county is proposing to put a road and bridge facility right in the middle of the project area,” said Shawn Hill, executive director of Valley Advocates for Responsible Development.

People who live in a subdivision just west of the proposed site also expressed concerns about noise, potential negative economic impact and environmental harm. They asked for a study to see the impact the development would have on wildlife in the area.

“Mule deer, elk, bears, all the other wildlife that’s in that corridor, it’s the same wildlife that’s in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” Hill said. “And because we’re in Teton Valley, because we’re on the west slope of Grand Teton and Yellowstone, we have a special duty to protect those globally renowned resources.”

Johnson says they have looked at options owned by the county and these 31 acres are the best location. It is next to the gravel pit, transfer station, and is away from the downtown traffic. It is also close to fire, water and public sewer. They would have to pay to run utilities to the site.

“We own very few properties and our options are pretty limited in terms of having fire demand or being able to meet fire demand on site, so this is a great candidate,” he said.

The county commissioners voted to continue the decision for another four weeks to look at other alternatives and compare them to the current proposed site.

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