September 17, 2018
Dear Mayor Muldoon & Town Councilors:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment regarding Snow King. We believe Jackson Hole can be a national model of a strong community living in balance with nature, and Snow King can be the greatest example of this balance: a ski hill built on our community values of protecting wildlife and providing access to nature on our public lands.
We are dismayed that Snow King’s current owners ignored at least half of our community’s input and have submitted a proposal to you and the Forest Service that would add a zipline to Forest and Town land, expand the development footprint into important wildlife habitat in three directions, and get developers out of the deal from 2000 in which a Town upzone of commercial land at the base pays for the ski area – instead asking us to sacrifice the character of our Town Hill for new profit centers like the zipline.
You are the decision-makers on many of these elements: thank you for your attention and care. Today, we ask you to also write to the Forest Service during their Scoping Comment period, on behalf of our community.
- Please ask the Forest Service to prepare Alternatives including:
- A “no net increase in boundary area” Alternative: if they expand boundaries on the front side, they must reduce them on the back side
- A “no net increase in footprint” Alternative: meaning no expansion, clearing, bulldozing, etc in any direction – not on the east, west, or back side
- A “preserve and protect the area’s ecosystem” Alternative: meaning create an option that best preserves wildlife, habitat, and the ecosystem
- Please also ask the Forest Service to highlight our Comprehensive Plan goals and Land Development Regulations during their “Issue Identification” phase.
Our 2012 Comprehensive Plan gives clear direction: “Preserve and protect the area’s ecosystem in order to ensure a healthy environment, community and economy for current and future generations.” One relevant policy is that “existing Planned Resorts should be limited to their existing footprint” (Policy 3.1.d). The same investors own Snow King and major private parcels in the Planned Resort area, and they are trying to expand their operational footprint in all directions – on Forest land, on Town land, and on private land. This massive increase in development and use clearly contradicts our Comprehensive Plan directive to protect our ecosystem. Please ask the Forest Service to not allow new development, roads, or chairlifts outside the existing operating footprint. Instead, they should encourage Snow King to improve terrain and amenities only within their existing footprint.
Our current Land Development Regulations have many relevant points as well. Under Planned Resort Zones (4.3.1) we read that “The intent of this development type is to:”
|LDR Text||Our analysis|
|Encourage recreational activities that rely on indigenous natural attributes of the area, contribute to the community’s character and economy and have a long-standing, beneficial role in the community||Ziplines can be built anywhere, go against our community character, do not have a long-standing or beneficial role – and are opposed by a large segment of our community.|
|Ensure that resort plans incorporate a mix of land uses, promote alternative modes of transportation, and provide a pedestrian-oriented community in order to alleviate traffic-related impacts||See discussion of impacts, below.|
|Ensure resort plans are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, and therefore, are beneficial to the community||See Comp Plan 3.1.d: “should be limited to their existing footprint” above. Also, “protect and preserve the area’s ecosystem” vs. major habitat destruction with new roads, chairlifts, and trails.|
|Enable long-range planning for infrastructure, capital facilities, and community land use patterns by establishing a level of predictability in the maximum potential size and character of each resort area||The current investors want to remove the predictability we have had for decades by drastically changing the size and character of this resort area.|
|Ensure a balance is maintained between tourism and community that promotes social diversity but does not cause undesired shifts away from rural, western community character||This proposal will mark a clear end to “Jackson Hole, Last of the Old West.” Ziplines, downhill bike parks, and massive event centers on top of Josie’s Ridge are widely undesired and clearly not “rural, western community character.”|
|Produce resort plans that make significant contributions toward protecting attributes of the community that are considered critical to the community’s long-term health, welfare, and well being||This new plan will harm our community by destroying wildlife habitat – directly contradicting our core Comprehensive Plan goal to “protect and preserve the area’s ecosystem.”|
- Please ask the Forest Service to analyze the impacts from all projected uses, and require that Snow King commit in legally-binding documents to fully mitigate all impacts before getting approval to build any new projects. Please ask the Forest Service to analyze these and similar key questions:
- How many skier days does Snow King host today – and how many will it host after boundary, trail, and lift expansion?
- How many people ride the Summit lift now and how many people do they expect to ride the new gondola – in winter, and in summer?
- How many people do they expect to ride the zipline, every day, and total?
- How many employees does Snow King have now – vs. after building all these projects?
- How much parking does Snow King use now – vs. after building these projects? How many new parking spots will this development require, and where will they put those spots?
- How much more impact will there be on utilities – water, sewer, garbage, etc?
With gratitude for your work on behalf of our community,
Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance