Northern South Park regulations approved with ‘emergency brake’

County commissioners set the highly scrutinized land development regulations in stone, trying to ensure affordable units are built at a similar rate as free-market ones.
Representatives of one Northern South Park landowning family, Amberley Baker and Nikki Gill, sit in the front row during the public comment period at a past meeting in late February. Baker and Gill celebrated this week's decision. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

Regulations for Northern South Park passed in a nearly unanimous vote by Teton County Commissioners Tuesday — with some assurances.

The board voted 4 to 1 to approve the regulations and a concurrency agreement, referred to as a “caboose” or “emergency break,” to try to guarantee affordable housing is built at a similar rate as free-market homes. 

It’s potentially the largest housing development in the region’s history, with more than 1,400 units south of town. The majority of the units (70%) are slated to be affordable or workforce housing.

I feel like this is the most significant, the most complicated decision this board will make and perhaps, the most significant land use decision in the history of this county,” said Board Chair Luther Propst, the lone dissent.


This comes after the county’s planning commission advised the board to not approve the regulations, which have seen criticism from housing advocates and environmental organizations throughout the process, including during last week’s highly attended meeting. 

Before the concurrency agreement was drafted, there was concern that the construction of these units may lag behind free-market ones. And even with that agreement, Propst still has worries.

Board Chair Luther Propst (left) was the only vote against the motion to approve the land development regulations at the Tuesday meeting. Vice Chair Natalia Macker (right) supported it. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

“I couldn’t support it because I wanted to see and I need to see assurances that we will get the workforce in affordable housing as the market housing is developed,” Propst told KHOL after the meeting.

The commissioners ultimately approved the “emergency break,” halting the progress of free market housing at 50% if at least 20% of affordable units haven’t been built.

Other board members like Natalia Macker and Wes Gardner agreed with Propst that the plan needs clarity, but supported a motion anyway, arguing the good outweighed the bad. 

“If the will of the board is to call the vote today, I’m in support of it,” Macker said. “I would support potentially a higher concurrency percentage, but I am persuaded.”

Gardner expressed similar concerns.

From the beginning, I’ve thought concurrency was the crux,” Gardner said, “and I’m not going to die on that cross. I’ll support the motion.”

The decision ends an about year-long process of drafts and revisions. Next steps lie with Northern South Park landowners, who can apply to develop the land. The affordable housing developers, Habitat for Humanity and Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust, will also need to raise funds to break ground.

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