Commissioners support Driggs City Council decision
On Monday the Teton Board of County Commissioners denied a commercial rezone north of Grand Teton Distillery and Burns Concrete in the Driggs Area of Impact, citing concerns about sprawl as well as a reluctance to go against the Driggs City Council, which voted in opposition of the rezone last month.
The 8.8-acre parcel on Highway 33 is currently zone multi-family residential, but California developer Dean Rodatos, who purchased the land in December, wants to build a “modern business center” with “clean plug and play spaces” that could accommodate light industrial and heavy commercial uses such as recreation technology and food processing. He emphasized the need for better-paying jobs in the valley and more opportunities for small business owners.
Because the parcel is in the Driggs Area of Impact, the Driggs City Council had the opportunity in February to weigh in on the rezone before the county commissioners considered it, and the council voted three to one to recommend denial, because the council members wanted commercial infill closer to downtown rather than encouraging sprawl on the outskirts. They also were uncomfortable with the wide variety of allowed and conditional uses in the proposed service/highway commercial zone, which include car sales lots, a gas stations, RV parks, storage warehouses, and contractor’s shops.
At Monday’s meeting, Rodatos appeared in person to argue his case. He noted that the property is surrounded on three sides by similar uses, including a 107-acre undeveloped property to the east that is zoned for light industrial.
Comment submitted by Bill and Lea Beckett, the owners of the distillery, reinforced the idea that the property’s current zoning of residential is inappropriate because of the proximity of the concrete plant and other industrial businesses.
Brian McDermott of the Teton Regional Economic Coalition also spoke to the demand for light industrial spaces in the valley, naming several businesses that had expressed to him a need for affordable, accessible factory space.
The county commissioners were not convinced.
“Extending commercial zones in a linear fashion down a strip is how sprawl happens,” said Commissioner Bob Heneage.
Commission chair Cindy Riegel agreed. “I think it’s a great idea, I just don’t think it’s an appropriate place.” She also said that she was uncomfortable with going against the Driggs City Council’s decision.
Both Riegel and Heneage voted against the rezone. Commissioner Harley Wilcox was not present.
The uses allowed in the property’s current multi-family residential zone include medical clinics, daycares, and nursing homes, and the conditional uses include hospitals, motels, administrative offices, RV parks, and fitness centers. The 330-foot corridor of the property that abuts the highway are within in the Driggs Design Review Overlay, meaning the city still has say over the appearance of some of the future development visible from the road.