GUEST OPINION: John Stennis

By on November 11, 2014

Let’s go on LDRs

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – I ran for Town Council because I know Jackson needs to enact the regulations necessary to support our Comprehensive Plan goals. The Land Development Regulations are the key to reducing the ongoing housing crisis by clearing the way for more housing for Jackson residents, our friends and neighbors.

Let’s Go. We owe it to our community to provide fair regulations that are easy to understand and use. More density in critical areas of town helps us achieve our Comprehensive Plan goal of housing 65 percent of our workforce in developed areas. We need a spectrum of housing that includes subsidized, deed-restricted and market rate homes that are also within reach of people who live and work here. Housing is critical — just ask the members of our summer workforce who camped in Curtis Canyon.

Although I came up short 53 votes, I am proud of the campaign I ran and the tremendous community support I drew, and I thank you for that support.

We need to get the Land Development Regulations done now. Two years ago, Jackson and Teton County approved our Comprehensive Plan, yet we do not have a single new regulation to show for it. We have big issues to discuss in 2015 and new regulations are key to addressing these issues.

In the current regulatory climate it is difficult for private landowners and public institutions to build the housing necessary for Jackson Hole’s residents. The LDRs are key. Right now, developing a property takes a lot of time and expense. By creating simplified regulations, this process is a lot easier and less intimidating for property owners wanting to develop properties in town. New LDRs could also give us more density in town and allow us to build more apartments, townhouses, single-family homes and other housing types at a variety of price points.

It hurts our community. Without new LDRs, property owners are uncertain about what they can build. At the Town Council meeting on November 3, two property owners wanted to rezone their properties to a higher density. In other words, they were asking for additional housing units to be allowed on their lots. This motion failed 3-1. Mayor Mark Barron spoke about the length of the approval process, calling it “glacial,” and said that “people deserve more from their elected officials.”  Councilman Jim Stanford’s response was, “Democracy is tedious.”

Well, it doesn’t have to be.

At the last candidate forum, Bob Lenz said that we didn’t need to act swiftly because we have existing regulations in place. At the same forum, Don Frank said we should not rush new regulations.

Maintaining the status quo increases the housing crisis. These statements are in direct conflict with our community’s expressed desire to provide housing to all our residents.

Demand accountability. Our Town Council needs to hear from you. Council members should not impede the process, and should allocate the resources necessary to complete a full draft of the LDRs in 2015. As a four-year member of the Planning Commission, I know this is possible, but it can’t happen without strong leadership and encouragement from our citizens. These regulations won’t be perfect, but they will be substantially less confusing for property owners. We need to complete this process now, not four years from now.

Again, this election was not about me. This community wants a sustainable economy and sustainable housing to continue to make Jackson great.


About John Stennis

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