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Teton County, Wyoming

Teton County, population 21,294 (2010), contains the Grand Teton National Park, the National Elk Refuge and a large portion of both Yellowstone National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming. In 1994, the County adopted a new comprehensive plan and land development regulations designed to preserve environmental resources, wildlife habitat, scenic corridors and rural character. As the plan and regulations were going through public review, concerns were raised about the impact that the new restrictions might have on the development potential of affected properties. As a result, a transfer of development rights component was included in the final plan and regulations.

Process

The TDR section of Teton County’s code simply allows two non-contiguous parcels to be treated as one parcel for development purposes. In one application, when two non-contiguous parcels are calculated as one, the combined area can be used to meet the minimum parcel size requirement needed to receive certain benefits of the agricultural land preservation program. In another application, the combined acreage can be used to increase the on-site density of all the properties due to the fact that Teton County’s allowable densities increase in proportion to the size of the parcel.

Finally, Teton County allows density to be transferred from sending sites to non-contiguous receiving parcels as long as the proposed transfer would further the objectives of the comprehensive plan, including the preservation of scenic corridors and sensitive natural areas. The program offers a one-to-one transfer ratio; the amount of development severed from the sending site is the amount of development allowed on the receiving site. To apply for a transfer, property owners must file for a Development Plan. The approval of the Development Plan is discretionary with hearings before both the Planning Commission and the County Board.

Program Status

Since the Teton County TDR program has a one-to-one transfer ratio, its success may rely on the demand for additional density on potential receiving sites and/or the ability of environmental restrictions and site constraints to discourage development on potential sending sites. In a 1998 update, Teresa de Groh, Senior Planner, reported that the TDR program had experienced one transfer. In that transfer, 15 units were transferred to a receiving site project called “Stilson” and six other units were transferred to the Jackson Hole Mountain Ski Area. This transfer preserved a 211-acre environmentally sensitive area known as Rock Springs. As reported by de Groh, the use of TDR may increase as outlying parts of the County begin to develop more fully.