Climate Sustainability

April 12, 2010

First off

I would like to express my support for Commissioner McCarthy’s comments and recommendations, which are themselves based on the mission of the Jackson Hole Energy Sustainability Project. A good starting point. Like Commissioner McCarthy, I feel our Comprehensive plan should include objectives which go beyond energy sustainability alone and address broader issues related to our community’s unique place in the history of permanent natural resource and wildlife protection and ecosystem connectivity. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it. As part of the largest intact(ish) natural ecosystem in the contiguous United States, with the amount of worldwide visitation we receive, with our counterpoint juxtaposition to the large scale energy extraction industries in nearby counties, we have been given a unique and powerful opportunity to both continue to expand our leadership in the environmental movement in this country and around the world. We are not only an integral part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, we are an integral part of the Greater Planet Ecosystem.

 

Vision Statement

Teton County and the Town of Jackson will expand their leadership in energy efficiency and innovation; to transform the community into a model of sustainability, energy saving investment, conservation, and ecosystem protection. We will reduce our waste stream and handle it within our own jurisdiction; to stop exporting the byproducts of our lifestyle to others. We will reduce our consumption of products which, through their manufacture, packaging, distribution or their very nature contribute to the degradation of a healthy planet. We will plan our community according to the these principles.

 

Why

Because our environment, our wildlife, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the clear skies above, the fresh snow under our feet, the rivers, and the mountains are precious and unique, and it is our responsibility to insure that they exist as they are for generations to come.

 

Policies

First and foremost, the document on which we have been working for the past year is a land use plan, and the land use concepts at the heart of the document MUST embody the principles of sustainability about which this chapter as well as much of the rest of the document is based, or all of the other recommendations we make are just window dressing. The land use pattern enabled by our current recommendations is that of dispersed sprawling 35 acre lots distributed throughout the rural areas of the county. The exact opposite of a conscientious, sustainable development pattern.  It’s the pattern which insures a rural landowner the biggest return on investment, and provides the community with the maximum amount of asphalt paving per acre. That’s where this plan is headed. Luckily, so far, this is not the development pattern currently on the ground in most of the county. The historical pattern we find in Teton County is a NODAL development pattern, with concentrated pockets of more dense clustered development in certain centralized locations. We all know where they are, and how they facilitate public transit, reduce traffic, promote alternate travel modes and help preserve the open space between them. Why isn’t this development pattern, the one that most closely resembles what we have on the ground today, included in our land use vision for the future of our sustainable county? I don’t know. I wasn’t there that day. Even the well organized citizen and community activist groups that have been such a constant presence in the debate surrounding our Comprehensive Plan, including the South Park Neighbors and the Conservation Alliance acknowledge that a nodal development pattern will most likely need to be revisited. I don’t know how Save Historic Jackson Hole feels about it, but nodal development IS Historic Jackson Hole.  It’s not the concept of nodes that created so much public agony when the April Draft was released, it was the size of the nodes, yet the entire concept has been removed from the language of the plan. It’s time to correct this mistake. Unfortunately the whole plan is being rewritten without acknowledging this fact.

 

Suggested Comp Plan Text:

Policy 8.1.e: Lead by example in Green Collar and Renewable Energy industries: Teton County is uniquely positioned because of our natural environmental bounty and our proximity to major centers of multiple extractive energy industries, to become a national counterpoint to those industries in the specific area of alternative energy research. Clearly, this is an industry which will grow and develop over the next decades, and this industry might very well find the juxtaposition between the pristine natural environment in our backyard and the oilfield development of neighboring counties serves their purpose as far as marketing alternative energy sources. We should market our community to this sector of our national economy because of the way it can help our local economy. To that end, our Future Land Use Plan will designate an area to accommodate an Alternative Energy Research Campus, where things like wind turbines and photovoltaic arrays can be installed. Not for mass production of electricity, for research in how to make these technologies more efficient and applicable to Teton County's built environment. 

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