Mountain Town News |

Mountain Town News

Jackson Hole is engaged in a noisy debate about population growth and development. Change the names and the numbers, and its a story that could be about almost any mountain valley of the West.Jackson, a city of 10,000 people, is contained on the north by public lands, and on the east and west by mountains. The logical place for the city to grow is southward, into ranch country called South Park.There, basically as an extension of the city, two major projects already exist. Called Melody Ranch and Rafter J, they comprise almost entirely low-density and somewhat ample homes, most of them occupied full time. In other words, this is home to Jacksons upper middle class. But given the economics of land in Jackson Hole, the great growth areas are now more distant, in a place called the Starr Valley, about an hour away, or even across Teton Pass into Idaho, near the communities of Driggs and Victor.Into this situation came a developer from Chicago who has proposed a mixture of free-market and a healthy dose of deed-restricted affordable housing 500 housing units in all to appeal to the middle class, at least as it is defined by the economics of Jackson Hole.Called Teton Meadows Ranch, the project would offer homes ranging in cost from $400,000 to $740,000. Houses would be smaller than 2,000 square feet, with the largest lots no more than a quarter-acre in size considerably smaller than is the norm in the area.The Jackson Hole News&Guide has received spirited letters on the proposal for months. Most writers despise the continued urbanization of the bucolic neighborhood. Lets have the courage to absolutely cap growth! said one writer, Nancy Shea, who argues that the greater ethical obligation is to the elk, the moose, the bear, and the mountain lion.Another letter writer, Yves R.H. Desgouttes, sees this and other arguments as phony. The moral obligation is to the working class needed to service those who have flocked to Jackson Hole in its new phase as a world center for recreation and leisure. We should treat them well, he says.Meanwhile, other development proposals have also descended on the county officials, causing county officials to consider a moratorium until Teton Countys master plan is revised.

Town officials in Avon, located at the foot of Beaver Creek, have adopted regulations that require affordable housing as part of all new residential and commercial projects. Increases in median housing costs, up 81 percent between 2000 and 2006, have far outpaced increases in median incomes, up only 17 percent, notes the Vail Daily.

Business and government leaders in Breckenridge were taking steps to dampen too much enthusiasm for an end-of-season celebration called Gaper Day. The event has gotten out of hand in recent years, with snowballs and obscenities alike being thrown, usually accompanied by two-fisted drinking. Neither music nor free barbecues are being offered this year, reports the Summit Daily News.

City officials are proposing restrictions on the types of refrigerators, air conditioners and ice-making machines that are used in Whistler. The primary intent is to reduce the amount of drinking water used for such purposes, an estimated 14 percent of the citys water supply.Instead of water, the proposed law would require new such appliances to use air-based heating mechanisms. Those newer models are said to be more efficient and, hence, cheaper to operate.However, restaurateurs said they had not been consulted and were leery about the unintended consequences. The proposal was withdrawn pending greater consultation, reports Pique newsmagazine.

The composting program in Banff is being proclaimed a success, with interest growing in the Bow River Valley.In Banff, about half of the trash is food waste. Of that food waste, nearly 70 percent can be composted. Not all restaurants are participating, but seven are, using dedicated bins that are then collected by the towns garbage crews, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

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