At the Park County Planning Board’s December 2020 discussion of the DCMZDR, comments were made by county staff and some Board members that concerned FPC, including that they weren’t concerned about “20 acre homesites with a home and some outbuildings,” and that if there was to be any regulation of residential development it should focus on higher-density development.
In response to an invitation by Chair Heidke of the Planning Board—to address bad outcomes that weren’t but should be addressed by the County’s regulation—FPC expressed our concerns over the many potential negative impacts of low density residential development in the county and made several recommendations to the county staff and Board.
If these 20 acre homesites were developed over the next decade, 36 square miles of land would be affected: equivalent to a two mile wide strip along Highway 89S from Livingston to Pray. The loss of land for commercial farming and ranching, the loss of wildlife habitat, the degradation of riparian habitats by the introduction of millions of new gallons of sewage every year, threatened rural drinking water supplies, and rising property values would be a result of this development.
It is clear that lower density residential development in the county should be of more concern than higher density development. The Ebert Apartments in Livingston are a good example of how higher density development could accommodate growth in a more efficient and affordable manner with fewer negative impacts to the community.
Based on this analysis, we recommended the Park County Planning Board staff provide four resources to the Board and public:
- A map of new homes permitted in the last decade along with acreage for each home and relevant information about associated septic and groundwater permits.
- The same information on past and current subdivision applications and the number of undeveloped subdivision lots.
- The first or regular quarterly report on applications and approvals of new residential homes, septic systems, and groundwater permits.
- A memo identifying the County’s 2017 Growth Policy goals, objectives, and actions relevant to rural residential development.
Finally, we urged the Planning Board to pass a motion adding the subject of rural residential development to its scheduled discussions and public testimony sessions at its monthly meetings starting in June.