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Targhee base area expansion

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Pandora strikes again? From the Jackson Hole News/Guide:

Targhee plan seeks rezone for 875 units
With completion of land swap, Gillett family unveils remake for Alta ski area.

By Samantha Worthington

Grand Targhee Resort on Tuesday submitted an application proposing the rezoning of 120 acres to resort status to allow 875 lodging and residential units plus commercial space at the base of Fred's Mountain.

The application follows completion of a land exchange between the resort and the U.S. Forest Service, giving owner George Gillett and his family ownership of the property at the base of the ski hill. With the change in ownership, the 120 acres is automatically zoned rural; the resort status would permit the expansion envisioned by owners.

Larry Williamson, resort manager, carried the application over Teton Pass on Tuesday to submit it to county officials after years of battles over the land exchange. He said the plans will enable the resort to offer more to its customers without killing the small-resort ambience.

"Our goal has been and will continue to be to ensure the natural and authentic character of Grand Targhee is preserved," Williamson said. "We are creating a viable destination resort that can provide a one-of-a-kind, quality vacation experience to visitors year round."

Development to take 20 years

Targhee lies about two miles inside the Caribou-Targhee National Forest boundary at the end of Ski Hill Road above Alta. There are currently 96 lodging units at the resort and about 37,000 square feet of commercial space.

The development that would take place over 20 years would include 240 "accommodation units," which could be made up of hotel, motel and hostel rooms. The application does not say how many people could occupy each unit. But it does set an upper limit for accommodations at the resort: 3,500 people.

The plan calls for 472 condo units, 75 townhouses, 41 cabins and 47 single-family lots. Targhee is asking to be able to rent all units on a short-term basis.

A 32-acre core would include a mix of parking and resort facilities. The plan includes 118,000 square feet of commercial "resort services and amenities." Another 60,000 square feet is designated for "supporting commercial space." A total of 1,930 parking spaces also is proposed.

The plan would provide employee housing for 40 people, but no affordable housing.

Currently, there is no employee housing at the resort. Williamson said the resort would like to partner with the communities of Driggs and Victor to provide employee and affordable housing in those towns. There is more land, more services and more affordable housing in Teton County, Idaho, than in Teton County, Wyo., Williamson said.

Residents of Idaho pay a state income tax. As a result, property just over the border in Wyoming is valued higher.

No increase in skier numbers

Targhee is not proposing to increase the number of skiers. Targhee offers 2,412 skiable acres that can accommodate 5,130 skiers per day. The resort is currently operating at or below 2,300 skiers per day because of the limited existing base-area facilities.

The amount of lodging, guest services, retail and dining options has not significantly changed since 1977, preventing Targhee from accommodating potential visitors. Williamson said development would address the imbalance between skier capacity, lodging and infrastructure.

"It will allow for a lot more destination people to enjoy Targhee skiing," he said.

The U.S. Forest Service permitted 8,000 skiers per day in Targhee's 1971 master plan. That plan also included a golf course, which no longer is proposed.

The latest federally approved master plan would have allowed 189 fewer units than Targhee's plan. It also permitted lodging for 2,700, not 3,500 visitors.

But more recent Forest Service studies ­ those investigating the land swap ­ suggest a base area with 970 units, 95 more than Targhee's latest proposal.

"Our downscaled submission goes to the very heart of our commitment to maintain Targhee's authenticity, intimacy and family-style atmosphere," Williamson said.

Williamson said the resort currently has a 60 percent summer occupancy, and the increased year-round opportunities offered by the resort will improve that rate.

"Providing a variety of opportunities for quality units resulting in high occupancy at Grand Targhee, including short-term rentals, timeshare and fractional ownership, is key to our base-area development," Williamson said. "The energy within the village will draw increased destination guests, not only providing customers for Targhee's retail shops and restaurants, but the businesses and lodging facilities throughout Teton Valley as well."

More than 61 percent of Targhee's proposed development will be located in areas that currently have buildings or some type of use. Twenty percent of the 120 acres would be undeveloped space.

Traffic associated with development at build-out is not projected to have an impact on road infrastructure, according to the application. Ski Hill Road, the only road to the resort, has been designed and constructed to accommodate traffic from the resort, the application states.

But Targhee will implement programs to decrease traffic on the road. As the resort develops, an employee transit system will be implemented, and as public transit services are expanded in the area, the resort will partner with transit services to serve more guests and residents, officials say.

The proposed Targhee master plan came after a long environmental analysis of the land exchange and several court challenges. Targhee swapped 400 acres in Squirrel Meadows ­ a private inholding and important grizzly bear habitat between Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks ­ for 120 acres at the base of the ski hill.

Targhee has operated under a permit with the Forest Service since 1969, but always on federal property. Now that Targhee owns the land, it can sell real property on the site.

Critics of the plan have already said the design will make Targhee look like some of the resorts Targhee owner George Gillett worked on when he owned Vail Associates in Colorado in the 1980s. They made their comments when plans were first unveiled last spring.

Others are worried about the impacts on the infrastructure of Teton County, Idaho, because tax revenues generated by the area will go to Teton County, Wyo. A consultant said there may be a way to legislate revenue sharing between the two counties.

Targhee's submission came to planners a week after Teton County planning commissioners recommended approval to change the zoning of SRA land near Teton Village from rural to resort. The planning department will first determine if the Targhee application is sufficient before planners assess the proposal and recommend approval or denial. They will assess the proposal and respond to the applicant in mid-January.

post #2 of 3
I have never skied targee Yet i did take a ride uop there this summer on my way back from Jackson hole. i was amazed by how many new condos are being built just outside The National forest on the road going up to Targee. It seems to be boom time in Driggs and Victor ID. Kind of the same way just outside of Powder Mountain In Liberty and eden UT for that matter the whole Ogden Valley I was suprised at the cost of homes there. They are just about on par with cost in Park City area. That is if you take out the price of the starter Castles in Deer Valley.
post #3 of 3
If i had the option to vote on this, i would have to say no, because it's say housing for 40 employess, but no affordable housing.
The Driggs area is already filling up with Califorins, who feel that sky high rent is the norm, for those on a fixed income.Thus causing the locals who have there all thier lives to find cheaper housing, miles away.
Now if the application is changed to where it would say affordable housing, yes i would vote for the rezoning.
I grew up in the Eastern Idaho, Western Wyoming, this is awesome country, but one can't enjoy living there due to the high price of housing moving in.
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