Conservation Alliance Objects to Proposal
Grand Targhee Resort (GTR) is initiating development of their Master Plan, which includes a resort center and a separate residential area. They have submitted their application to build a residential subdivision with 22 cabins located on 17.5 acres. GTR’s entire residential area is 84.3 acres on which 90 units could potentially be developed. The GTR Cabins application will soon be in front of the Board of County Commissioners.
The Conservation Alliance is involved in this process because of concern for human safety, impacts to natural resources and non-compliance with the Grand Targhee Resort Master Plan (GTRMP).
Our key objections:
1. The proposed development lacks a Fire Management Plan
Grand Targhee Resort is in a remote location, only accessible by Ski Hill Road. Having only one way in and one way out poses a huge risk to occupants and rescue workers in the event of a wildfire, or just about any other natural disaster.
- The Threat of Wildfire: Given the recent history of extreme wildfires and the devastation of numerous communities in the west, it is imperative that GTR establish a fire management plan prior to approval of their Cabins application. The fire management plan should steer the design and location of the development, not be created as a remedial action after development permitting. GTR is in a remote location within Teton County’s wildland/urban interface and its only access is Ski Hill Road. It is irresponsible to approve a remote residential development in a wildfire prone area, with one access road without a fire management plan. The Grand Targhee Resort Master Plan, page 48, agrees with this assessment in that “the resort shall prepare a wildland/urban interface study prior to the first phase of development.” The Conservation Alliance contends, THIS IS THE FIRST PHASE OF DEVELOPMENT; the fire management plan is required.
- Wildland/Urban Interface Mitigation : The proximity of the proposed cabins with US Forest Service land will inevitably result in wildland/urban interface mitigation in the form of vegetation clearing on Forest Service land. The 120-acre Resort area was sized and configured by the Forest Service in part to avoid valuable wildlife habitat, wetlands and waterbodies within the Master Plan. If structures are located so close to Forest Service property, impacts to natural resources for the purpose of fire mitigation (vegetation removal) will be located on the more valuable Forest Service land.
2. Building on Steep Slopes
GTR is asking for an Administrative Adjustment from the Teton County Land Development Regulations (LDRs) to develop on steep slopes where development would otherwise be prohibited. We believe this to be the wrong approach. GTR could avoid steep slope development without changing regulations – the effect of which may have additional consequences outside of this development.
- Process: An Administrative Adjustment is permitted to adjust the LDRs under certain circumstances and within specific limits. However, the GTRMP dictates the development standards for GTR unless the Master Plan is silent then development standards default to the LDRs. The Master Plan specifically calls development of slopes more than 30 percent “natural hazards to avoid” and prohibits development of slopes >30 percent. The correct process to request development on slopes >30 percent is an amendment to the Grand Targhee Resort Master Plan, not an Administrative Adjustment to the LDRs.
- Compliance: The 17.5-acre development area for the cabins is self-imposed by GTR; the entire residential area of the Targhee Master Plan is 84.3 acres. Certainly, there are locations within the 84.3 acres that protect natural resources and are on slopes less than 30 percent. The project should be required to locate development to avoid slopes in excess of 30 percent as required by the Master Plan. In addition, the Master Plan itself calls out steep slopes (>30%) as “natural hazards to avoid.”
3. The proposal does NOT COMPLY with The Grand Targhee Resort Master Plan.
Master Plan requires preparation of a wildland/urban interface study prior to the first phase of development.
This is the first phase of development; a FIRE MANAGEMENT PLAN IS REQUIRED.
Master Plan prohibits development on slopes >30 percent.
Master Plan amendment required; Administrative Adjustment is the wrong tool.
If you share the Alliance’s concerns, please let your County Commissioners know! Email your Commissioners at email@example.com.