Zombies Invade Teton County
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But of course making good decisions, using a lot of foresight, is rarely easy. That’s evident in Teton County’s current effort to craft a whole new comprehensive plan that, theoretically, would incorporate the lessons learned here. The process has revealed that the divide within the community is far from healed.
At the biggest meeting with farmers, held in January, Rutherford presented many ideas for how the new plan could be an improvement. They included downzoning (reducing the allowable densities for subdivisions in rural areas) and more emphasis on “overlays”—the various maps showing wildlife habitat that should be protected. “It was a pitchforks and torches meeting. The answer to everything was ‘no,’ says one attendee.
“It would be nice,” Rinaldi says, “if we could focus on the good things of Old West meeting New West, instead of all the differences and the fear of change.” And it turns out, some good things are happening here lately. The real estate bust hasn’t affected the scenery or the other amenities of life in Teton County, and many of those who’ve been able to hang on here say they like the slower pace.
As for Matt Hail, despite having to downsize to a doublewide, he’s found contentment among the Teton County zombies. He supports the county’s efforts to adopt tougher regulations, and hopes that when the market eventually improves, he’ll be able to make a profit by selling a few lots in a small parcel he still owns. The land is next to a zombie that he hopes will be reconfigured to have more open space and a wildlife corridor.
Allen Best writes about energy, water, transportation and other issues of the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains. Excerpted from High Country News (March 5, 2012), the leading source for regional environmental news, analysis and commentary “for people who care about the West.”
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