It’s not every day our community takes an important step forward, let alone two on the same day. But at yesterday’s Joint Information Meeting of the Jackson Town Council and Teton County Commission, our elected representatives got it done.
First, both the Town Council and County Commission voted in favor of directing staff to come up with a plan to put the option of a one cent general sales tax to the voters in November to support investments in two identified community priorities, housing and transportation. Our elected representatives recognized that this approach provides the best way to address our housing and transportation challenges, and Mayor Flitner deftly led her colleagues through a challenging discussion to land on this constructive result.
While this vote puts us on the right path, we still have a lot of work to do. First, nothing is on the ballot yet. As a community, we must continue to let our elected representatives know that we want the opportunity to vote in November to invest in addressing our housing and transportation challenges. We should also make sure our elected representatives develop a plan to address our other community priority: protecting open spaces and improving habitat connectivity. Protecting wildlife and our families by making it safe for wildlife to cross the road through a network of wildlife crossings would help advance this priority.
Second, after voting on the general sales tax measure, the Council and Commission discussed the adoption of new land development regulations. Dozens of your friends and neighbors came to speak at the meeting and even more wrote emails voicing their support of staff’s recommendations of no new commercial and lodging development potential and monitoring residential incentives against a set cap. We know the easiest and most effective thing we can do to address our housing challenges in this community is to limit further commercial and lodging development. Additionally, we need innovative policy solutions that will result in more housing for hard-working families, which monitoring residential incentives against a set cap would provide.
Thanks to a unanimous vote from both the Town Council and County Commission in favor of staff’s recommendations, updates to our land use rules should help us solve the housing challenges facing our community. Making this vote even better, it laid the foundation for the development of a ‘Conservation Incentive Program’ to help conserve open spaces and wildlife habitat.
After months of deliberation on this issue, this decision yesterday is a great step towards achieving our community goal and choosing housing the middle class over more new Marriotts. The dedicated citizens of our community who took the time to write their elected representatives, testify at various meetings, and make their voices heard on this issue played a huge role in the process and deserve our thanks.
We cannot overstate the importance of the hard work, passion, and enthusiasm of everyday citizens in our community speaking up on these important issues. As a community, we must continue to stay informed, speak up, and hold our elected representatives accountable for making decisions in our community best long-term interest.
Stay tuned for more information on how you can get engaged in helping to move both of these important issues forward in the near future.