Forum eyes ‘party lots’
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
October 20, 2012
County commission candidates agreed Thursday night that conditional use permits are the way to regulate special events on rural land.
But they disagreed on details.
Parties and other special events have been taking place on rural property for years without regulation. Neighbors complain about noise and traffic caused by “party lots.” Some don’t want any commercial uses in traditionally rural and residential areas.
Teton County has been discussing a permit system.
But Democrat candidate Claire Fuller was concerned Thursday at a League of Women Voters forum about consistency in issuing permits.
“I’m worried that it doesn’t provide neighborhoods enough predictability for what could or could not happen,” Fuller said.
Commissioners have been considering allowing owners with at least 70 acres to rent space for parties, weddings and other special events, as long as the event takes place 300 feet from the property line.
That should be increased, Fuller said.
Other candidates wouldn’t commit to specifics.
Republicans Barbara Allen and Paul Perry and Democrat Melissa Turley said they would prefer flexible permit rules and case-by-case review.
“If a certain site needs more setbacks, that can be required” in an individual permit, Turley said.
By requiring conditional use permits, commissioners will be able to take into account road access and property location, Allen said Thursday.
Allen said she is “a big fan of consistent zoning expectations,” but she noted that in this case, it would be difficult to make one rule.
“These properties are so dissimilar, to make one land development regulation that fits all, it doesn’t work,” she said.
Allen wouldn’t say what size or location she thought would be appropriate, and said she would prefer a case-by-case review by commissioners.
Weddings and other events are important because they bring a lot of business to Teton County’s economy, she said.
Perry, the only incumbent in the race, agreed.
“You can have a site right next to a forest or river that’s going to be totally different if you’re in a housing zone,” Perry said.
Fuller said there are good locations in the county for special events. But she disagreed with the idea that allowing property owners to host events can be tied to preserving open space, a suggestion of county planners.
As people begin hosting more events, they’re going to increase infrastructure for those events, Fuller said.
The extra income from allowing events would help keep ranches afloat and preserve open space, Turley said.
“The goal of this is to prevent these large tracts of land from subdividing,” she said.