This City Planner is closing out 2015 on a high note! After several years of workshops, open houses, collaboration with consultants and my cohorts in Driggs and the county, dozens of meetings with the Planning and Zoning Commission, and citizen input, last night Victor City Council adopted the final Articles of a new form based land development code, and a brand new zoning map. The new code and map take effect upon recording and publication of the adopting ordinances on December 17th, 2015.
During the same meeting Victor City Council adopted the Urban Renewal Plan, which the Urban Renewal Agency commissioned earlier this year. With adoption of the plan the Downtown Victor Urban Renewal District, which is the City's first Tax Increment Financing district, was formed (after 6 years of fits and starts and intentional pauses).
Shepherding the code and plan through revisions and adoption and drafting the new zoning map consumed the majority of my time in 2015, and it feels good to end the year with both of these tasks buttoned up.
Here's to 2016, and the new mixed-use developments, variety of housing types, and downtown vibrancy that these documents will facilitate!
And if you're interested, you can read the new code here, and the Urban Renewal Plan here.
Thanks to a generous scholarship through the Sustainable Communities initiative, which was made available to Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant recipients, I was able to attend two back-to-back trainings in Washington, D.C. last week.
The first was the National Charrette Institute's Charette Systems certification training, and the second was a PlaceMatters / National Charrettee Institute training on high tech, high touch planning tools. I learned an enormous amount at both trainings, which I am already implementing in Victor.
My passion is the hands on side of community planning, the learning and listening from stakeholders, the conversations between neighbors with differing views, and those moments when consensus is reached.
Collaborative practice in action!
For several years local trail users have dreamed of an enhanced multi-use trail network in close proximity to the City. In 2009 a group of trail users got together and created the Southern Valley Trails Report, which identified the various trail improvements desired by each user group. That process laid the groundwork for the formation of a conceptual trail plan, a project I have been charged with developing in collaboration with the Forest Service and trail users.
Last night was the public workshop for the Southern Valley Trails Project. Folks from the Teton Area Advisory Forum and the University of Wyoming generously lent their time to facilitate small group exercises. Approximately 40 folks attended and responded to existing conditions and the initial concepts for summer and winter trails developed by the committee.
The next step is compiling and analyzing all of the public feedback to refine the proposal, and then to present an update to the public. Ultimately, a final proposal will be submitted to the Forest Service for evaluation through the NEPA process. Although formal approval from the Forest Service could take years, local residents (myself included) are already waiting, shovels and pulaskis in hand, to construct the trail network.
Last week was another amazing week for Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant recipients, myself included. This signature program of the Obama administration is drawing to a close and last week the final grantee convening was held in Washington, D.C.
The convening was comprised of workshops to share lessons learned and best practices with other grant communities, and keynote speeches and panel discussions from leaders in the non-profit and public sectors. I had the opportunity to present complete streets work in Victor during the "Rural Greatest Hits" workshop, and was extremely fortunate to be in the audience for Angela Glover Blackwell of PolicyLink's keynote on the Equity Atlas, and a panel discussion featuring Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the EPA, Secretary Julian Castro, head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Secretary Anthony Foxx, head of the Department of Transportation about sustainable development.
Gina McCarthy, head of the EPA, addresses the crowd of Sustainable Communities grant recipients.
Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and president of PolicyLink, addresses the audience. I am fortunate to have heard Ms. Glover speak about the equity agenda twice this year.
Hot off the press - the Lighter-Quicker-Cheaper report from the Sonoran Institute, documenting Sonoran and Strong Towns' visit to Teton Valley, and the project ideas brainstormed by our local stakeholders. Take a glance and the report and project ideas for Victor:
The Planners for the City of Driggs and Teton County and I have taken the code on the road - this summer we've taken our code outreach materials to the Teton County Fair, the farmers market, and the Music on Main live concert series in an effort to raise awareness about the new zoning codes each jurisdiction is reviewing. It's often (almost always) more effective to bring information to the events people are already attending than it is to entice people to attend your 7:00 p.m. meeting in City Hall.
Jason, Teton County's Planning Administrator, at the Teton County Fair.
Life is about more than work!
Last Saturday Zac and our friend Mark completed the iconic Teton Valley hike to Table Rock, and we were treated with stunning views of the Teton mountains!
Consultants from the Code Studio team came to town last week for a charrette on the "Drictor" area between Victor and Driggs, and the Driggs and Victor Areas of Impact surrounding each city. I am grateful that our code writing process includes ample opportunities for citizens to participate in workshop and give feedback during open houses - it makes the code writing process engaging, which inspires citizens to get involved, and remain involved.
Last week I attended a portion of the Idaho Conference on Recreation and Tourism (ICORT) in Sun Valley, Idaho. Specifically, I travelled to the conference to attend the Scenic Byways Committee potion of the meeting. I learned quite a bit about scenic byway projects in other communities, but I got more out of the experience than the presentations during the conference - I got to explore Ketchum, Idaho.
Wow - what a great town! I am new to the Rocky Mountain West and have not visited very many "mountain towns", but of the small scale mountain towns I have visited, Ketchum is by far my favorite. Experiencing Ketchum as a planner was to experience all of my favorite elements described in William H. Whyte's book City: Rediscovering the Center come to life. I couldn't help but take note of (and photograph) all of the placemaking details - the wayfinding signage, the public art, the plethora of places for pedestrians to sit, the chess tables, the plaza with a kiosk to serve snacks seasonally, the monuments to local people and history, the bulletin board brimming with flyers advertising community events.
I was so impressed with Ketchum that I even stopped by their City Hall and introduced myself to their Planning staff, and gushed about how great their town is. I can't wait to go back and visit again!
Teton Valley was selected by the Sonoran Institute for a neighborhoods First Lighter-Quicker-Cheaper economic development and placemaking visit from the folks at Strong Towns and the Sonoran Institute! Jim Kumon of Strong Towns and Angie Rutherford and Randy Carpenter of Sonoran Institute visited Teton Valley and toured the cities of Victor and Driggs and Teton County, met with stakeholders, and conducted walkshops.
In Victor we toured Main and Center Streets downtown and brainstormed ideas for small scale, incremental improvements to enhance downtown. Read more about the Lighter-Quicker-Cheaper approach on the flyer below (flyer designed by yours truly).
Young professional Urban Planner, drawing inspiration from all people, places and experiences I encounter!