Developing a Methodology for Analyzing Buildable Lands in Teton County, WY
Regehr, Bentley J.
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Regehr, Bentley J.
INTRODUCTION The purpose of conducting a Buildable Lands Inventory (BLI) is to quantify the amount vacant and underdeveloped land available within a particular set of boundaries. In combination with other studies—notably a housing needs analysis, an economic profile, and growth projections—a BLI allows a community to determine whether there exists an adequate supply of buildable land to accommodate future development, and where particular deficiencies may exist. If it is determined that deficiencies exist, a community’s governing bodies can make informed decisions and implement appropriate measures to provide for the projected unmet needs. When there is not reliable and transparent data, a community may be unable to make consistent decisions that align with a long-term vision to meet these projected unmet needs. This has proven to be a constant cause of tension in Teton County, Wyoming. In contrast to many communities, Teton County does not have a set of instructions or established processes to rely on when conducting a BLI. While this is the case for most communities in Wyoming, the implications have special importance in Teton County, where over 97 percent of land is federally owned and unable to be developed. On top of the constrained land supply, Teton County has the distinction of being the most economically unequal metro area in the United States (Matthews, 2016). The limited land supply and the increasing crunch on the working class make the stakes of land use decisions higher than your typical rural community. Developing a Methodology for Analyzing Buildable Lands in Teton County, WY 2 Location Teton County is located on the western edge of Wyoming, covering a total area of 4,216 square miles. Over half the total area of the County is made up from land owned by Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Of the 23,215 residents in Teton County, 10,213 reside in the Town of Jackson. Jackson is the only incorporated town in the County, but there exist eight other census-designated places: Alta, Hoback, Kelly, Moose-Wilson, Rafter J Ranch, South Park, Teton Village, and Wilson. A growing number of the County’s employees commute from adjacent Teton County, Idaho. Though the Town of Jackson and Teton County have separate offices, planning efforts are usually coordinated. For example, past buildable land inventories and comprehensive plans have been a joint effort between Town and County. The County also has three ski resorts: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain Resort, and Grand Targhee Resort. Each resort has its own master plan, which is approved by the County.