While I don’t always admit it, PART of my motivation for writing these articles is to provide a resource that is available 24/7, so I don’t have to be. In addition, articulating the information in this video when selling my services (yes, I do property management – albeit indirectly – as well) feels awkward. In any event, Teton Valley is seeing a number of property management firms popping up, and they all do a great job. However, some of them sell their services on a much lower fee, whether or not that is a tactic for business or not. This video is not directed at specific firms, but should help level the playing field when considering your options. Enjoy!
For those of you that take the time to read my blog (thank you) you know that I try to make the information relevant to the region. I will begin trickling blog posts in with information on the new zoning and land development code impacting the unincorporated areas passed July 6th, 2022. I will include a “2022 Teton County, ID Code” blog category which you can find in “THE BLOG” section, above. I am going to begin with an overview of the zoning changes which I felt I could better explain in a video, below. Enjoy, and stay tuned for articles to follow breaking down the 2022 Land Development Code for Teton County, Idaho.
The Board of County Commissioners adopted a new Land Development Code on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. It will become effective on August 3, 2022, after it has been noticed in the local newspaper for two weeks. Note: New City Area of Impact (AOI) zoning will soon be renegotiated between city and County governments. Victor and Tetonia AOIs remain as County 2.5-acre minimum lot size in the meantime. The Driggs AOI retains its own unique zoning scheme until the zoning is renegotiated.
TETON COUNTY, IDAHO ZONING ANNOUNCEMENT
TETON COUNTY, IDAHO LAND DEVELOPMENT CODE ANNOUNCEMENT
New Land Development Code in Effect August 3rd, 2022Land Development Code*All complete applications submitted by August 2nd, 2022 will be reviewed under Title 8 and Title 9 current regulations*
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can the new county code be adopted by the voters of Teton County, Idaho?
Zoning ordinances are not able to be adopted by initiative. I.C. §34-1801B(22) states that the broadly constructed individual right to petition via initiative and referendum simply, “does not apply to any local zoning legislation including, but not limited to, ordinances required or authorized pursuant to chapter 65, title 67. This was established in 2018 with the passage of House Bill No. 568 which amended the states initiative and referendum procedures to prohibit voter approval of local zoning legislation or any actions authorized by LLUPA. This includes comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances, subdivision ordinances, variances, and conditional use permits.
“When will the new Code take effect?”
The new Teton County Land Development Code will take effect when adopted by the Board of County Commissioners. This is expected to occur in 2022 after the final public hearing and review.
“Does this Code change development standards for the entire valley?”
It does not.
Teton County contains seven different land planning jurisdictions—the three cities of Victor, Driggs and Tetonia, the three doughnut-shaped areas of impact (AOI’s) that surround each city, and the unincorporated county beyond the AOI’s. The new Teton County Land Development Code will only govern development in the seventh jurisdiction—the unincorporated rural parts of the county outside of the cities’ areas of impact.
The cities of Driggs, Tetonia and Victor will remain as high-density areas of development under their respective individual development ordinances. The three areas of impact surrounding each city will remain under the control of individual AOI agreements negotiated between each city and the county. They are intended to contain transitional zoning with densities that are lower than the cities but higher than the rural county.
“Will the Code make existing landowners comply with new standards?” Existing buildings and development will not be affected by the new draft Code. They will be allowed to continue as “nonconforming uses.” Existing lots that don’t comply with new density assignments will be allowed to be developed per their original entitlements. The new LDC only regulates new land division proposals and establishes minimal regulation of short-term rentals.
Nonconforming structures: If structures become non-conforming, it only means they are not up to code. Most old structures of any age fall into this category each year, as the International Building Code gets updated every three years or a land development code gets changed over time.
Teton County Land Development Code Update | Executive Summary of Changes 4
With any new Land Development Code that gets adopted, it applies only to new construction projects and new developments. What is already built, subdivided and existing now is not affected by new density requirements, fencing requirements, height limits or view corridor requirements. No one will ever be asked to tear down or replace existing structures by a governing body.
“I heard the Scenic View Corridor set back was 1000 feet!”
Regarding scenic view corridors, the set back is not 1000 feet along the highway. The initial sentence in the draft pertains to the definition of a view. The draft ordinance originates from state law.
The LDC draft has two types of scenic corridor protections: type 1 and type 2. Both have design review provisions for development that occurs within 500 feet. There are options for new applicants within that 500’ distance for graduated increases in height limits as the home location steps back from the right of way.
“How will the new Code affect my home business?”
Small home businesses in residential zones have become less restricted in the draft LDC. What was a four page section of restrictions in the old code, is now just one page. A business sign is now allowed with a permit for starters.
The restrictions, for example, on deliveries of ten per day, sets a limit of what neighbors could be impacted by from small businesses in their residential zone. The use standards for home business are listed in 3-9- 6 of the proposed LDC.
Any home business with traffic and high levels of activity in one form or another that has outgrown a home business may be classed as light home industrial. If at any point the home business or home industry exceeds the standards for a residential zone, it needs to relocate to a commercially zoned parcel.
“How will the new Code affect my short-term rental?”
Because of the rapid unregulated spread of short-term rentals throughout the county, and since Idaho Statute allows for a county or city to implement “reasonable regulations….to safeguard the public health, safety and general welfare,” the new Teton County code does establish standards for parking, limits the ensures that the allowed numbers of occupants are appropriate for the septic size, establishes quiet hours, and sets other basic civil standards. The new draft Code additionally establishes requirements for trash storage, smoke detectors, etc.
Short-term rentals will be required to obtain a Short-Term Rental Registration (Permit) with the Planning Department to verify that use standards have been met prior to the use being approved. A building inspection may be performed prior to permit issuance. A permit will identify the owner of the property and their contact information. Property management contact information, if applicable, will also be listed.
The permit requires notification of the neighbors in each direction that may be impacted by the new rental activity. Having proof of emails or letters that notify neighbors 30 days prior to the start of rental activity is the new requirement in the LDC.
Property owners and managers that follow these guidelines will reduce the number of problems for neighborhoods throughout the valley.
Teton County Land Development Code Update | Executive Summary of Changes 5
“Why change the zoning districts?”
Teton County’s existing Zoning Map identifies basically two zone densities in the unincorporated parts of the valley—A-20 and A/R-2.5. These zones were established in the early 1990’s, were largely self-assigned by property owners, were not based on a comprehensive plan, and only vaguely reflect the valley’s actual land use patterns and landforms. In contrast, the Comprehensive Plan’s Framework Map identifies six zones which have been delineated according to actual topography and existing settlement patterns. These include Rural Agriculture, Rural Neighborhood, Foothills, Mixed Ag/Rural Neighborhood, Mixed Ag/Wetland, and Industrial/Research.
“Why change density assignments?”
The Comprehensive Plan calls for changes in how lands may be divided in each zone, including revised densities. In response, the Steering Committee, the Planning and Zoning Commissioners, and the Board of County Commissioners have worked out a new set of densities to better reflect the needs of the Coutny and the Comprehensive Plan: Rural Agriculture- 35-acre, Mixed Ag/Wetland-35-acre, Mixed Ag/Rural Neighborhood-20 acre, Foothills-10-acre, Foothills- 20-acre, Rural Neighborhood-7.5 acre, and Industrial/Research.
Update: In subsequent editing by the P&Z Commission, Rural Agriculture zoning was revised to 35-acre zoning and Mixed Ag/Rural Neighborhood was revised to 7.5-acre zoning.
The current valley-wide basic densities of 2.5 acres and 20 acres offer little choice and are relatively small in size for a rural community. 20-acre zoning is simply too small for most agricultural purposes and does little to protect meaningful open space. Other comparable mountain communities around the Rockies offer both a wider range of assigned densities, and far lower density limits (with corresponding higher acreage numbers).
“Why switch to average density zoning?”
For the most part, the LDC Steering Committee proposed to get rid of minimum lot size requirements in favor of using average density as the guiding principle in how many lots can be created in a subdivision (a 1-acre minimum lot size is planned to remain in all zones to accommodate fundamental well-septic separation requirements). By definition, this would allow clustering by right. This change represents a major shift in land development policy for the county. It is absolutely intended to help families get the additional lots they desire and keep quality farmland and families together. It is a win for everyone.
Average density zoning provides greater flexibility for property owners and developers, while allowing the community to reach many of its most important goals from the Comp Plan. An enormous advantage of average density zoning is that rather than having all the land in the parcel incorporated into lots, any land leftover could either be put into a conservation easement, deeded to a homeowners’ association, left as a working farm or otherwise utilized in a similar manner.
“Can I split off a small piece of land to give/sell to one of my family members? How?” Two methods are available to larger landowners to achieve this goal. The first is to simply utilize the average density zoning method just described in the previous answer. The second is to utilize a short plat land division to divide acreage into up to four parcels.
Teton County Land Development Code Update | Executive Summary of Changes 6
“How does the new Code help protect wildlife and natural resources as highlighted in the Comp Plan?”
All development proposed within wildlife habitat as identified on the Teton County Natural Resource Overlay Map will be subject to Site Plan review to ensure that the location of proposed development or use avoids or mitigates impacts to indicator species and indicator habitats to the extent practical. The location of proposed development will reduce fragmentation of habitat, avoid locations that affect landscape elements such as unique rock formations, sheltered draws, drainage ways, or other features, maintain connectivity among habitats, and protect sensitive fish and wildlife breeding areas and winter ranges.
If impacts cannot be avoided, the lost habitat will be required to be mitigated by replacing it with similar vegetation communities at a one to one (1:1) ratio. The replacement ratio must be higher within a half mile of riparian areas and equal a two-to-one (2:1) ratio. Perimeter fencing will need to be wildlife friendly—this requirement does not apply to privacy fencing used to enclose the living space immediately adjacent to a Dwelling Unit.
If a subdivision proposal falls within the natural resource overlays, the Administrator, Planning Commissioners or BoCC may ask for a more detailed Natural Resource Analysis.
“How is the Code different from the Comprehensive Plan?”
Both a Comprehensive Plan and a Land Development Code are required by state statutes contained in Idaho’s Local Land Use Planning Act. The Comprehensive Plan is a conceptual document outlining the community’s vision and goals. In Teton County’s case, our Comprehensive Plan was adopted by a BoCC resolution in 2012. The Code is then supposed to be built from the Comprehensive Plan’s outline into a working set of ordinances.
Unless you were living under a rock for the past 2 years (which might have been nice) you probably know that property values are up significantly. Until now, we haven’t seen County assessed values follow suit. With the recent release of 2022 assessed values, many are concerned that property tax increases are soon to follow. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your tax bill is going to go up proportionately.
In Idaho, each county is allowed to increase its property tax budget by up to 3% of the highest property tax budget of the past 3 years. The county can also increase their budget to account for new growth.
In order to calculate the tax rate, each taxing district within the county (Teton County has 18 taxing districts that each have slightly different budgets and needs) determines a levy, or the rate of which the county will multiply the assessed value to determine each property’s annual tax bill.
As an example, let’s say that district 1 has a total budget of $900k. In 2021, the total market value of every property in district 1 is $70m. To determine the levy, we would simply divide 900k by 70m, or 1.287%. If your assessed value is $300k, we simply multiply that by 1.287% to arrive at your 2021 tax amount of $3,861.
Now, let’s run a hypothetical based on what we are seeing today. We know that the total budget is going to increase with the new growth and the state’s allowance to increase the budget by up to 3% (ahem, inflation). Let’s assume that the new budget is $990k, and the collective value of all properties has risen to a whopping $110m. Using the same math, we divide $990k by $110m and arrive at 0.9%. Your value went from $300k to $450 this year. The math puts your 2022 tax bill at $4,050. While your tax bill has risen, it hasn’t risen 150% like your assessed value has.
The good news? Property values are up, and I know an agent that would love to sell your house.
- Mid-November – Current year tax bills mailed
- December 20th – FIRST HALF TAX PAYMENT DUE
- March 15th – Agricultural Exemption Applications Due
- April 15th – Application deadline for Hardship Tax Relief or Circuit Breaker Program
- April 15th – Application deadline for Homeowner’s Exemption
- June 20th – SECOND HALF TAX PAYMENT DUE
- First Monday in June – Assessment notices sent out
- Last Monday in June – Last day to appeal current year’s property values
- Summer – County begins planning budget for following year
- Second Monday in September – County certifies budget
I’ve always got to start with my typical disclosures. I’m obviously not a builder, but I work closely with builders and stay in touch with customers that have projects in the works. I always tend to have a few projects going on myself, as well.
I wrote an article back in 2015 with information about my experience with the cost of construction. As you probably already know, things have changed quite a bit since then. In addition, a good portion of my 2015 project was sweat equity. I later constructed another small home in 2017, and I should have updated this article then as I relied more heavily on subcontractors, though I acted as the general contractor in both circumstances. I later again acted as my own contractor during an extensive remodel of my 1980s home, and I am currently closely involved in a project with a general contractor.
Getting back to the nuts and bolts, the cost of construction has gone up pretty dramatically. Obviously there are a few things at play here including material costs, supply shortages on both materials and labor, not to mention the cost of living which has changed pretty significantly since 2015. This definitely trickles down to the cost of labor as well. To have some fun, I looked at some of the material costs from my previous projects. I decided to use 7/16 OSB or sheeting as my “gold standard”. That may not be totally accurate across the board for all lumber and materials, but it’s a good indication as to what’s going on.
7/16 OSB, 2015-2022
2022: $60 +/-
To be fair, that 2021 price is… not fair. If you were watching, you might remember there was a lumber bubble that popped in the Fall of 2021, and we all thought that may be a tipping point on material costs. That assessment was incorrect, as things jumped right back up to a high point, and continued that trajectory. The interesting point was how much that drop in lumber prices could impact a typical 2000 square foot home. The answer (in rough numbers) was about $15,000. Obviously some great savings in that scenario, but it’s probably not going to make or break the bank in the scheme of a large (or even a small) project. When we look at all material costs, you can see where it all starts to add up. Virtually everything is in high demand and is experiencing some sort of shortage. Appliances, tile, drywall, copper, plumbing materials, whatever. When you add it all up, it’s pretty significant.
As mentioned, the cost of living and therefore the cost of labor trickles down to costs; and can have a pretty significant impact on them. If a concrete company’s cost of labor goes up 20% because the cost of living is up 20% (realistically more) the contractor can’t just absorb that cost. Here again, concrete, framing, roofing, mechanical/electrical/plumbing… the list goes on. The biggest contributor to the issues described?
Supply and Demand
Supply of rental homes is extremely low. Supply of existing homes for sale is low. Materials, labor, contractors, everything is in low supply. Demand? You guessed it, through the roof – pun intended. While the lack of supply has a direct impact on the cost of materials and labor, there are indirect costs as well. If I can sell my used car for 10% more than I paid new, I am absolutely going to do that. In addition, I think there is likely some price gouging going on out there. Regardless, the bottom line is that people in small communities make their living when the economy is doing well. I’m not just speaking for myself when I talk (or think) about slow times.
It’s interesting to read articles about economic cycles and what seems to be a universal opinion that times are different in terms of a potential real estate recession. Supply is still extremely low today. However, while leading up to the recession in the mid-2000s, supply was out of whack. Regardless, I’ll never make a steadfast economic prediction – and I’ll never promise that a recession won’t happen. That said, I do believe that rising interest rates will create some affordability issues (who am I kidding, there are already pretty significant affordability issues) that will tamp down the demand for construction which is already expensive. I also believe that notwithstanding prices rising so quickly, I do believe the pandemic created some shelter, keeping things in control because costs increased so significantly. With these changes in our economy, we can only hope to see some relief to balance the market. If this occurs, it will undoubtedly help stabilize some of these crazy construction prices.
Okay, I’m done blabbing about the stuff you probably already know.
So what’s it cost?
I didn’t reread my article, but I recall building my first project pretty affordably, keeping in mind that I did so much of that work myself. Costs obviously went up in 2017, and I do remember it getting more difficult to line up contractors – there was quite a bit more construction happening then. A few other considerations, some builders calculate a basic garage in their square footage cost estimate and I think you could accomplish that with the numbers below assuming modest construction, keeping in mind that Teton Valley’s modest construction tends to be a little on the “higher end” side of things including better heating systems, insulation, etc. Most of the contractors here use 5/8 drywall, 12 gauge wiring, and so on.