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Land sale ends battles

By Michael Polhamus, Jackson Hole Daily
July 18, 2013

The property just west of Nora’s Fish Creek Inn has been sold, ending a long battle between developer Jamie Mackay, Wilson residents who opposed his plans and Teton County.

Most recently, in May, county com-missioners turned down a Mackay plan for a mixed residential-commercial project on the 2-acre property.

Mackay had previously won approval for a different plan, but after his project won county OK, the Wilson Advisory Committee took Teton County to the Wyoming Supreme Court and won a reversal.

Just who has bought the land wasn’t being revealed by the people involved.

One Wilson Advisory Committee member, Peter Pilafian, of Wilson, said he believes the family involved has a strong record of conservation and the resources to maintain the land.

The buyer is listed as Edmiston Spring LLC, a corporation established July 5. Edmiston Spring Creek is a tributary of Fish Creek, and much of the state high court case turned on its associated wetlands on the property.

Attempts to contact the individuals behind the corporation were unsuccessful.

Mackay also declined to say who the buyer was for his property. He said he was glad to have sold the land but added he was disappointed with the process that prevented him from developing it.

“It’s easier for a developer, and cheaper, to cut your loss and sell property, than to go through the torture chamber of Teton County’s rules and regulations,” Mackay said. “For a developer or any landowner to walk into Teton County and think he’s going to get anything approved within a decade — it’s not going to happen.”

The court case he brought against the county hinged on whether Teton County approved the plans arbitrarily or capriciously, according to the opinion written by Justice Michael K. Davis. The Supreme Court was unable to determine the legitimacy of the approval because Teton County failed to show that conditions it agreed to lessened the development’s environmental impact.

Mackay depicted the controversy as an instance of wealthy landowners resistant to housing constructed for Teton County employees.

“It isn’t a town of millionaires and billionaires,” he said. “It needs to be a place where the working class can live. These people come in on jets, and they want to see cowboys and flatbed trucks — they don’t want to see the working class.”

Mackay’s most recent plan included 6,290 square feet of commercial space and 10,080 square feet of residential development on the part of the land closest to Highway 22. The plan also included, at the back of the parcel, a house and guest house totaling 5,886 square feet.

As for the property’s buyers and their intentions, Mackay said he has “no idea what their plans for the property are.”

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