BUZZ: Strip Clubs and ‘Y’ Bother

By on April 19, 2016

Town tackles several tough issues in forum filled with fireworks.

LEFT: Artist rendering of ‘Y’ housing project. TOP RIGHT: Attorney, school board trustee, and Spring Gulch rancher Kate Mead. (Photo: Design Associates Architects, TCSD#1)

LEFT: Artist rendering of ‘Y’ housing project.
TOP RIGHT: Attorney, school board trustee, and Spring Gulch rancher Kate Mead. (Photo: Design Associates Architects, TCSD#1)

Pole dancing

JACKSON HOLE, WY – In an attempt to get out ahead of potential Constitutional rights challenges, town officials are scrambling to move from a temporary moratorium on Adult Entertainment Businesses (strip clubs, et al) to a definitive zoning policy that will ensure such establishments are put in appropriate places.

They are on the rise everywhere including some franchises,” town attorney Audrey Cohen-Davis said as she fashioned some basic rules from accepted standards across the country. Considering the town’s costly lawsuit loss to members of the Right to Life demonstrators arrested in Jackson a few years ago, Cohen-Davis is tasked with balancing Constitutional rights with desired community values.

Cohen-Davis insisted no specific plans for a sexually oriented establishment are in the pipeline.

The town council felt confident enough that secondary effects do exist regarding AEBs—allowing for municipal codes to override first amendment rights in a fashion that has yet to be successfully challenged by strip club owners feeling discriminated against. Staff was directed to tweak LDRs and municipal code to allow for AEBs in Business Park (BP-ToJ) zoning and at least 300 feet from the boundary of a school.

Budge slide II

Here we go again. Learning nothing from the Budge slide debacle and still having the mess unfixed and unpaid for, town leaders appear willing to green light more housing on the precarious butte.

Developers Charlie Schwartz and Eric Grove brought forth an initial sketch plan for 20 residential units at the “Y” on the 1.1 acres formerly home to Choice Meats. On the plus side, developers say they’ve overparked the project (twice the required parking) and are asking for a rezoning from commercial to residential. On the down side, ingress/egress could present significant challenges and then there’s the butte that continues to ooze toward Broadway at an inch a month.

Grove didn’t deny pulling out of the property (especially left-hand turns) would be a bit challenging but felt the residential nature of the project would mean less cars in and out every day than was experienced when the lot was a deli. Schwartz said significantly less traffic would be generated than the 2,538 average daily trips generated when the site was Choice Meats/Amoco gas station.

Then Kate Mead went off.

“I wanted to cry when I saw this,” Mead began at the meeting where, as a TCSD No. 1 trustee she thought she would be there only to save school kids from G-strings and pasties. “We are effectively ruining this town. And we do it because we think we need to provide everybody with a place to live here. Why are we trying to build housing for employers who don’t want to pay people a sustainable wage in this town?

“Our family has worked diligently as have others across the street from this development. We’ve done conservation easements. Seeing this makes me wonder why the hell we bother. It’s just one thing after another and you start to think why is it that elected officials in this town can’t say, ‘Hey, not everybody can live here.’ I think we are overly enamored with the idea of workforce housing. Come on, you kill the golden goose, eventually. Workforce housing is not that important because people who hire people should house them themselves like we do on our ranches. Do that and we don’t need these big housing developments.”

Regarding the site location and potential traffic hazards of getting in and out of what councilman Don Frank called an “oddball piece of property,” Mead continued to be flabbergasted.

“Eventually you will have so many people in Jackson that Highway 22 will be unmanageable, which it already is. In the summer it is crazy because all the jackasses out of Wilson have to get to the light first, right? I’m really horrified by the intensity of the development [proposed] on this site. And it’s laughable to suggest this is a less intense use than it was before.”

And lastly, Mead could not believe the town was even considering building up on the butte again. She explained her involvement with the Budge Drive litigation as an attorney in town.

“Budge Drive litigation showed that the soils were loam with a clay layer underneath. What a surprise. And our engineers said, ‘Oh yeah, you can continue to take away that hill. You can continue to put stuff up there. It’s going to be just fine.’ This is the same hill, the same butte. I just think it’s something you can say no to.”

Mayor Sara Flitner and councilman Jim Stanford both expressed some trepidation about building again on the slippery butte. A unanimous decision was made to continue further talks until the town’s next scheduled meeting.  PJH

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