How residents can help shape Park County’s Land Use Plan: Public meetings in Powell, Cody and Meeteetse scheduled for June
Reprinted from the POWELL TRIBUNE – June 9, 2022. By Eric Gill
Park County residents who are concerned about future growth have an opportunity to be heard. The county is updating its Land Use Plan, starting with a trio of upcoming meetings in Powell, Meeteetse and Cody.
Whether they have concerns about preparing for the next decade or they want to maintain the area’s pristine surroundings, all county residents are invited to participate in the Land Use Plan Advisory Committee (LUPAC) meetings.
- Powell: Monday, June 20, at the Park County Fairgrounds in Heart Mountain Hall, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
- Meeteetse: Tuesday, June 21, at the Meeteetse School cafeteria, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
- Cody: Wednesday, June 22, at the Cody Park County Library, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
- Virtual: Monday, June 27, online via Zoom, from 6-7 p.m.
Calling the first meetings an “open house format,” these are opportunities for the public to learn more about the LUPAC, said Joy Hill, Park County Planning and Zoning director.
The meetings provide opportunities for people to learn more about the process that will shape the county’s future, she said.
“It’s a pivotal time for Park County,” said Hill, who noted the region’s Land Use Plan has not been updated since 1998.
Hill explained the upcoming meetings will give attendees insight into how the county will determine priorities and balance the needs of communities with the demands of citizens, many of whom are concerned the area is growing too rapidly.
“Let’s be honest, it’s going to be very difficult to wade through everything,” Hill said. “To retain the Old West and ag … open spaces and recreation and not become urbanized.”
Referring to the county’s existing Land Use Plan as “a little bit aged,” Hill said the LUPAC “allows people to have input in what the county should look like in the future.”
In addition to recommendations from staff — particularly those from the Planning and Zoning board — many Park County Commissioners’ decisions are based on the 1998 plan.
By developing a contemporary Land Use Plan that takes into consideration recent growth and developments, the commission will be able to strike a balance that serves the interests of everyone in the community, she said.
“Once that document is adopted, we’re going to roll into amendments to our development-use plan,” Hill said, noting it will be a lengthy and well-considered process, based on input from all participants, especially area residents.
“We do expect a complete rework of the zoning map for Park County,” she said. “That could result in no changes in some places and drastic changes in others.”
The Planning and Zoning director said after this month’s meetings additional meetings will be scheduled for fall 2022. During those meetings, residents will have opportunities to express concerns and make suggestions, Hill promised.
Earlier this year, 16 Park County citizens were “selected by the board of commissioners to represent 12 planning areas” as well as agriculture, economics, industrial/environmental and real estate, Hill explained. She noted a Powell area rep (Tye Whitlock) also was selected to represent countywide real estate interests. In addition, Marion Morrison was named to represent the Cody/Powell Rural area.
“These LUPAC members are people the public can go to” as community liaisons who will interact with county officials, Hill said. The 12 areas represented are regions of the county. Hill calls them “pockets.”
“We almost consider them neighborhoods, in some ways,” she said, pointing to North Fork as an example. “People know what that means if you say, ‘North Fork planning area. Some of them are clearly more distinct than others — like the Cody-Powell area. It’s massive, so people might not know where the area begins and ends.”
Clarifying the county’s boundaries for residents for planning and zoning purposes is a crucial element of the updated Land Use Plan, Hill said. In fact, two county commissioners — Dossie Overfield and Lloyd Thiel — were appointed by the Park County Commission as “main points of contact” between the LUPAC and the board, she said.
Hill emphasized the public meetings (beginning with this month’s trio of “open house” style gatherings in Cody, Meeteetse and Powell) are vital to county employees and commissioners. Hill said they want to hear what people in Park County believe are the most important priorities for the future.
“Every comment will be received,” she said, noting one of the project team’s key players (Clarion Associates) has already begun conducting surveys and compiling feedback from more than 700 Park County residents. Additional surveys are anticipated, along with more meetings and Zoom access for people who cannot attend the public forums but wish to participate electronically from their homes via computer.
Hill anticipates county officials will receive “thousands of comments” from residents before the process is complete. One of the tasks assigned to Clarion Associates is to “consolidate key messages” from the public about what kind of place citizens want Park County to be in the future.
“It will be up to the [commission] to take those comments from the public and direct them into goals and policies,” Hill said. “Some people say our goals haven’t changed since 1998 — we still love our history and culture, our open spaces, our recreation.”
Conversely, many residents and business owners are struggling to find more affordable housing and attract customers, which translates into job opportunities.
“There’s the collective people who say Park County needs more places to live and more businesses,” Hill said.
This month’s meetings are an opportunity for residents to learn about the county’s future plans and offer input. Whatever the outcome, county staff and elected officials will base planning decisions, in part, on the updated land-use document that emerges.
“Our development regulations for permitting have to be based on our land-use plan,” said Hill, clarifying the plan is a “guiding document.”
“We have this massive increase of development going on around Park County,” she said. “Our permitting numbers are up — just talk to any bank.”
The region — known worldwide for its pristine surroundings; outstanding wildlife viewing, hunting and fishing; popular rivers; and outdoor recreational activities — attracts admiring visitors and residential transplants for a reason. Park County, Wyoming, is gorgeous, healthy and clean.
It has also been nearly a quarter of a century since the county updated its land-use plan. Most home values are climbing, some long-time residents are getting priced out of their houses, and many young people are leaving the area for job opportunities elsewhere.
“We have to grow,” Hill said. “How do we do that? We have to find a balance.”
For more information call 307-527-8540 or visit parkcounty-wy.gov/planparkcounty
16 citizens serving on the LUPAC
Agriculture: Kelly Spiering
Clark: Dave Hoffert
Cody Local: Andy Quick
Cody/Powell Rural: Marion Morrison
Commercial/Industrial: Jerry Thompson
Economics: Rebekah Burns
Environmental: Kathleen Jachowski
Lower South Fork: Brett Trudo
Meeteetse Local: Tiffanie May
Middle South Fork: Mike Bromley
North Fork: Laurie Steward
Powell/Real Estate: Tye Whitlock
Sage Creek: Richard Lasko
Sunlight: Bret Allard
Upper Clark’s Fork: Tracy LaFollette
Upper South Fork: Matt Curtis