Landowners, housing nonprofits, advocates clash over Northern South Park development

This comes as Teton County Commissioners consider new land development regulations for the biggest proposed housing development in the region's history.
About 15 audience members — many stakeholders in the Northern South Park plan — sat in on Tuesday's meeting. It was the first time the county commissioners considered the new draft plans for the housing development. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

The Northern South Park development could add more than 1,200 homes to Jackson – most of them affordable.

At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners heard from a county planner, one landowner representative and both nonprofit housing developers regarding current plans for what could be the largest development in the region’s history.

“I’m feeling just a lot more confident that this is going to happen,” said commissioner Mark Newcomb.

In the plans, the county requires that both deed-restricted and free market housing be integrated and that new public infrastructure be created or tied into existing city infrastructure for services like water and sewer. 

However, the development is far from a done deal, and local housing advocacy group Shelter JH says that neither the integration nor infrastructure regulations go far enough. 

Shelter JH Advocacy Director Claire Stumpf speaks about the group’s advocacy efforts at a gathering with the Teton Democrats. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

Clare Stumpf, the advocacy director of Shelter JH, says one of her primary concerns is the timing, or phasing of the development. She and other advocates have asked the county for regulations that guarantee affordable homes be built at the same rate as free market housing.

“I just think there still needs to be some revisions to the LDRs (Land Development Regulations),” Stumpf said. “And, you know, Shelter JH’s role is to make sure that our elected officials factor in the people who are most vulnerable, who can’t be in a five hour meeting on a Tuesday morning.

An attorney representing the Gill family, one of the two landowners, said they’re on board with the proposed plans but warned the county against too many additional regulations, saying that the project is already balancing on a “razor’s edge.”

“So again, if we can thread that needle so that they do not impact financing to provide the infrastructure, that they can be financially and logistically viable,” the attorney, Amberley Baker, said. “I think our answer would be yes.”

Commissioners asked the planners to present options for regulations ensuring deed-restricted affordable housing is built around the same time as free market housing at a future meeting.

Anne Cresswell, Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust executive director, sits in at this week’s meeting. (Hanna Merzbach, KHOL)

Shelter JH has also asked for greater transparency into the affordable housing developers’ fundraising and construction capabilities. 

But the leaders of both of those developers, Habitat for Humanity and the Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust, said at the meeting that they’re confident in their ability to raise the funds. 

“This solution is as good as it gets, and you hold the keys to unlock this opportunity,” Anne Cresswell, the community housing trust’s executive director, told commissioners, urging them to keep plans “flexible.”

The next county meeting is on Feb. 27, where community members have the opportunity to provide public comment on the housing development.

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