Planning for Growth and Small-Town Character

Nov 25, 2011

Preserving wildlife is a top goal in Teton County's new plan for managing future development. But some local residents say planning for people also needs to be part of the deal.

Robbin Levy lives just down the street from Wilson Elementary School -- a distance her two kids could easily walk or bike. But before she goes to work, Levy drives them to school because it's too dangerous for them to cross Highway 22.

"School's right across the street," says Levy. "But it feels like it's miles away."

A lack of affordable housing in Teton County, means many Wyoming workers live on the other side of Teton Pass in Idaho. Their daily commute cuts through the heart of Wilson, a small town on the Wyoming side of the pass with no traffic signals but plenty of traffic. Levy says pushing growth outside Teton County is changing the character of communities like Wilson. 

"It would be easy to just brush the entire county with a wildlife brush because wildlife exists everywhere," says Levy. "But we have other goals in the comprehensive plan beyond wildlife that we have to address as well, including community character."

Levy hopes the county's latest planning efforts will take steps to stitch this once tight-knit community back together. The next round of planning workshops is slated for early December.