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"A primary object... should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing ...than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?" George Washington
Dear Teton Valley Tea Party participants and friends:

We are forwarding the following letter from the Piquets to the County Commissioners because it is in opposition to the new, draft County Comprehensive Plan. This plan if implemented as currently written, violates all three of the core values for which our Tea Party stands: Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets. Just as an example, if implemented our taxes and "fees" would go up; the County would control more functions of our daily lives such as under what circumstances we can use and sell our land; and the County with our tax money, instead of the free market, would fund things like public transportation.

Please read the letter below and be alert to anything you can do to stop the new Comprehensive Plan.

Teton Valley Tea Party Board


2-28-2012

Dear County Commissioners Rinaldi, Benedict, and Park:

We wanted to let you know how we feel about the proposals of the new comprehensive plan, how it affects us, and what we would like to see. We hope that you will be considerate of the landowner's point of view since the decisions you make will affect our lives, our livelihood, our retirement, and our children's future. We, landowners, hold the biggest stake in this event though we may not have as many votes as the townspeople/ subdivisions people have. We are not certain if you have the slightest concern for the remaining farmers and our plight or if you are among those who are planning to maliciously use our industry to advance their personal destiny. We are hoping that you truly care.

In the past, owning land was revered as a sacred and honored position. The landowners, the landlords, the land barons were of high social regard and had a significant voice in the government and the community. It seems the table has turned and now we are just a bargaining chip for the people who are marketing Teton Valley as a tourist destination. Now you look to the landowner, or in this respect, the farmer, to hold land open to maintain the rural atmosphere for the purpose of entertaining the bikers, hikers, VARDarians, pseudo-environmentalists, etc., and giving the tourists something to spectate. In a sense, we are the latest circus act for those who choose to pimp Teton Valley's beauty and the farm life peculiarities to support their selfish hidden agendas. It's all about the dollar bill. The dollar bill that lines the promoter's pockets but not the landowners' who have worked, sacrificed and actually paid for their property so that these above-named individuals can control the use of it. There are a lot more economics in this valley than just tourism, although right now that is all that is promoted. We are land owners in the Bates area of the valley. We raise cattle, hay, and grain. We have been on this property, or property in the valley, for 4-5 generations. It appears that we have been unknowingly nominated to participate in this 3-ring event, called the new comprehensive plan. We did not choose to join up as one of the preforming acts, but if the proposals are accepted, we will be forced to provide open space and untouched wetlands for the valley's newest business, called "tourism." It has been proposed that we, among other Teton River Landowners, provide access to pristine wildlife corridors where moose, deer, fox, coyotes, and beautiful trout streams run though our grounds. For some reason, these pseudo-environmentalists think that we are supposed to hold open these undeveloped properties so they can trespass into the private lives of these wildlife species mentioned above, all-the-while pretending that their intrusion will have no impact on their existence or environment. These planners have suggested putting parks, birdwatching towers, and bike paths along the Teton River and in the very wetlands they are opposing any landowner development. A bit of a paradox,isn't it? .

We have been asked by Commissioner Park to let you know what we want. We hope that by stating it, it will make a difference.

1. We want the current comprehensive zoning of 2.5 and A-20 to remain unchanged. There is nothing in the Idaho regulations that sayS you have to change the current plan. We are adamantly against having the zoning changed to A-60 divisions. This is an unfair burden placed on the landowners and it will take away our development rights. We feel that this is a "taking" of our property and in the Idaho Regulatory Takings Act Guidelines it says:

67-6508. Planning duties.

(a)
Property Rights -- An analysis of provisions which may be necessary to insure that land use policies, restrictions, conditions and fees do not violate private property rights, adversely impact property values or create unnecessary technical limitations on the use of property.

We feel that the A-60 zoning would make our property nearly unmarketable, and adversely impact our property values. Not even wealthy people will purchase 60 acres for a homesite unless they can develop the ground later on. Most people do not want 60 acres because they have no way to farm it or keep the weeds controlled. We can tolerate the A-2.5 and A-20 acreages that is in the present comp plan, but we are absolutely against A-60 plus. It also divides acreages that are usually 80, 120, 160 unevenly so it actually makes the divisions even larger than 60. At this point, we have no desire to subdivide, we want to farm, but we don't want to have our ground devaluated by A-60 zoning. By forcing the A-60 divisions on us, it also takes away our development rights, without compensating us for it. It is basically stealing them from us but we have no desire to sell them anyway.

Laren looked into what the zoning rules were for nearby counties and this is what he found out:

Madison county: Rural is one house per 16 acres (A-16)

Fremont county: 20 units in semi-cluster per 100 acres, one-time division Quick sales are allowed without the planning and zoning involvement for family members to put up homes.

Bonneville county: 1 house per 10 acres (A-10) next to the suburban areas and in farmland it is A-20.

There are variables on particular landscapes. All of these counties have huge rivers and wildlife corridors running through them. That's a bit different that A-60, isn't it? They all thought A-60 was preposterous!

We think it is interesting that everyone, including the renters, get to determine what the large landowners can do with their property, but how would they like it if we told them what we think they should be doing with their property? We also don't see why we should be punished by forcing us to maintain open space for everyone else's pleasure. How is that right? We don't see their names on our deeds.

2. We want the public to stay off our ground with their dogs, litter and lack of consideration. We are against allowing a "South Bates" park on our property, or bird watching towers, or trails along the Teton River. Not only is that our property, but it will also damage the environment that the wildlife are presently existing in. This will destroy their habitat permanently.

3. We want the scenic corridors to stay the same as the current plan. We do not think they should be1/4 mile on each side of the roadway. That is far too wide. That is far too much control over those affected landowners.

4. We want the option to give each of our children a small-to-large portion of our land. We want the option of that being anywhere from a homesite to 20-acre increments, or larger if desired. We do not want to have to cluster them, unless we want to.

5. We want to be informed of what is going on with these comprehensive plans proposals, the meeting dates, what the topics are and what the timelines are. We are upset about the lack of notification and information that has been available in the local newspapers about when the meetings are, what they are about, and what ideas are coming out of the planning meetings. The article by the comprehensive core committee, in the latest Teton Valley News, is the first we have seen that gave any information on what they have been doing. It was nice to see something but I am sure it wouldn't have gone in there if they hadn't hear an outcry from the landowners. We appreciate the fact that there are going to be town meetings to allow more input into this process.

If we had had a clue that these kinds of ideas had been coming out of the woodwork, we would have been involved sooner. Luckily, we found out from a neighbor that our land rights were in jeopardy and so we went to the last 2 meetings. We were appalled at your statement in the Valley Citizen 2 weeks ago, that we should have known what has been going on for the last year or more but we say that there has been little to no information posted in the paper that would tell us that what was going on! They may have posted some of the meeting dates but we were not informed about the substance of them and if it had anything to do with us. On top of that these are public meetings and they should be posted according to the public meeting laws. The last Ag/Heritage committee meeting time was changed from 6:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. with little to no advance notice. I believe the public meeting law requires the post or any changes to the meeting to be up for 5 days prior to the meeting.

6. We want less taxes, not more. We are against being taxed for open space. First the plan is take away our property and development rights, then to force us to go A-60 zoning which is forcing us to maintain open space and then you plan to tax us on it. The large landowners are paying the lion's share of the taxes anyway, and now you want to add an OPEN SPACE tax! Ridiculous and totally unfair.

7. We believe the landowners should have the say over their property, not VARD or the Land Trust, or some of the newcomers who believe they have the right to control all of us.

It is really too bad we had to pay an outsider to come in and spend the county funds on this new comprehensive plan. It is appalling that we can't plan our own comprehensive plan. Most of the farmers have been managing their land for generations now and doing a pretty damn good job. If we hadn't, we wouldn't still be in the business. It appears, however, some special interest groups, specifically VARD--there may be others--have a lot of power but do not have any right to that power, and they have been stealthily steering the entire framework into what they want. Who died and made VARD God in this valley? We can't believe they have the upper hand when they are not even elected officials. It makes us pretty upset to say the least.

We understand that you have a very difficult job to do and you are elected to represent the citizens of the county. We hope that you will represent the needs and the rights of the property owners. Please take our concerns into consideration and protect our Constitutional and State property rights.

Sincerely,

Laura and Laren Piquet