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Foes: Delay party regs

By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole Daily
December 17, 2012

Citizens are pressing Teton County commissioners to delay acting on new rules that would regulate special events on rural land.

They’re asking county officials to take more time to study the proposed rules, raising questions about the intent of the new regulations and potential loopholes.

“The county seems bent on adopting a text amendment which will thrust it into a long series of [conditional use permit] proceedings in which the neighbors will line up to protest the conflicts that big recreational commerce presents in the midst of their once-peaceful neighborhoods,” said Sheridan attorney Kim Cannon.

Cannon represents Loring Woodman, who, with his wife, lives next to the Lazy Moose Ranch. Lazy Moose is of one of the properties whose owners are expected to apply to host events if the new rules are approved.

The rules scheduled to come before commissioners Tuesday would create a permitting system for rural landowners who have at least 70 acres and who want to host parties and events.

Commissioners still would review each proposal. The regulations would allow commissioners to restrict the number and types of events a property owner could host. Commissioners are scheduled to review the proposed regulations during a meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the county administration building, 200 S. Willow St. The rules are available at TetonWyo.org.

Commissioners reviewed the regulations two weeks ago. During the review, they tentatively agreed to remove a requirement that landowners show that their land is being used for agricultural purposes. The decision prompted more questions.

“It is nearly impossible to develop good planning policy within a hearing setting,” Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance Community Planning Director Melissa Wittstruck said in a letter to commissioners. “It is late in the game to bring substantive changes and difficult for the public to effectively engage.”

Woodman fiercely opposes the county proposal, warning that rural neighborhoods would be disrupted by commercial activity. Changes commissioners made earlier this month could make that worse, he said.

“Cut loose from agriculture, the door has been opened to just anybody,” he said in a Dec. 13 letter to commissioners. “And as you have been seeing, virtually any newcomer with 70 acres is now positioned to take advantage of it.”

Supporters of the amendment say it will allow rural landowners to make money off their properties without having to develop them. That would preserve open space, proponents say.

Planners say the regulations will allow greater control of the events, which already are happening throughout the county.

The regulations would affect an estimated 131 properties.

Under proposed rules, landowners could host as many as 30 events a year — 15 between April 15 and Oct. 15 and another 15 between Oct. 16 and April 14 — though commissioners could set a lower number. Ancillary events, such as rehearsal dinners, wouldn’t count.

Events could have no more than 300 guests, though commissioners could cut that depending on parking, building size, property size and safety. Music at the events would have to end by 10 p.m., and the events would have to wrap up by 11 p.m.

Noise couldn’t exceed 55 decibels when measured at the property line.

Commissioners could require valet parking or shuttles.

The regulations would allow events to occur within 300 feet of the property line. Parking areas would be held to the same standard.

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