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News & Press: City News

Driggs and Victor Land Development Codes Receive Regional Accolade

Tuesday, October 3, 2017  
Posted by: Gay Dawn Oyler
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Recently, in Spearfish, South Dakota, the Land Development Codes for the cities of Driggs and Victor were awarded the Rural Innovation award from The Western Planner. The Western Planner offers this annual award to highlight the efforts made in small towns that make use of innovative planning techniques and achieve outcomes that advance sound planning. Award recipients were required to demonstrate a major accomplishment that has a continuing impact and its significance to rural planning.

Driggs Planning & Zoning Administrator Ashley Koehler was eager to apply for the award in an effort to share the story of municipal collaboration and innovation surrounding the cities’ new Land Development Codes. The regulations within the Codes are a result of a decade long commitment from the cities to smart growth principles and proof of what successful collaboration looks like between planning staff in rural communities. Koehler believes, and The Western Planner agreed, that the Driggs and Victor Codes are examples for what a high-quality zoning and subdivision code look like. One of the project goals was for the Code to be easy for the public to understand and apply on their own; to accomplish this, the Codes use common language and less "legalese." In addition, the Code is full of simple graphics that assist in the interpretation of everything from setbacks to lot measurements to landscaping requirements. The resulting Codes offer intriguing solutions to our cities’ issues, including increased options for infill housing, new mixed-use zones, a new sign code, and dark-sky friendly lighting regulations all in a hybrid form-based code format. One of the biggest impacts that the cities hope to provide is a similar code for both jurisdictions so that realtors, business owners, builders, surveyors, developers and property owners who do business in both places do not have to learn two different code formats, zone names, or definitions.

In applying the Codes over the last year plus, the cities admit that tweaks and edits have been and are still necessary. The City of Driggs Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council completed a 6-month review in June 2017 and ended up adopting several changes including regulations that responded to public comments of concern.

The Codes are available on the cities respective websites: www.driggsidaho.org/land-development-code and www.victorcityidaho.com

Background on the Codes:

In late 2012 the cities of Driggs and Victor and Teton County, Idaho, along with the consultant, Code Studio spearheaded the effort to create the Model Code for the Western Greater Yellowstone Region as part of a HUD Sustainable Communities grant. The Model Code is available expressly for other jurisdictions to utilize as a starting template or pull ideas from. In creating the Code, significant public comment was gathered at the onset along with expert guidance from economic advisors and urban design professionals. Since Teton Valley was used for the Model Code Driggs and Victor took it a step further and throughout 2014-2016 tailored the regulations to what each jurisdiction needed. Staff planners at the time Brittany Skelton- Victor (now Ketchum, ID), Ashley Koehler- Driggs, ID, and Jason Boal- Teton County, ID (now Ada County, ID) met weekly to review the draft codes and went chapter by chapter to clarify, interpret, and incorporate public comments to fine tune the Model Code for each of the jurisdictions. It was a grueling task and required teamwork and cooperation amongst the planners to find common ground so at the end of the day the Codes would remain as similar as possible in regards to processes, definitions, and zone districts. Driggs P&Z Commission then met bi-weekly and Driggs City Council thereafter both thoughtfully reviewed the regulations as it pertains to the City of Driggs. Finally, in December 2015 the City of Victor repealed their entire zone map and Code to adopt the new Land Development Code and the City of Driggs followed soon thereafter in September 2016.

Background on The Western Planner:

The Western Planner (WP) is known as a leader in connecting planning professionals across the rural west. Officially organized as Western Planner Resources, Inc. they are a partner to the American Planning Association chapters of the western states. The Western Planner was established as a "journal of information and ideas for planners, their boards and commissions, and their multiple publics." Since its inception, the WP has attempted, as a founding principle, to raise the general quality of planning in the Mountain-Plains area, through the sharing of ideas, planning news, and practical planning methods.

Source: https://www.westernplanner.org/organization-blog/2016/8/4/hstory


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