The American Planning Association (APA) recently awarded the Town of Jackson and Teton County Planning Departments a silver medal for “Best Practice” at the 2019 National Planning Excellence and Achievement Awards event held in San Francisco, California. For their efforts with the Engage 2017 project, the Town of Jackson and Teton County joined the podium with Los Angeles, California; Lakewood, Colorado; and Clovis, California in recognition of a silver showing for the National Planning Achievement Award for Best Practice.
The Best Practice category emphasizes results and demonstrates how innovative and state-of-the-art planning methods and practices help to create communities of lasting value. In order to be considered for this award, Engage 2017 was nominated by several community members and organizations.
Many communities face challenges in linking stand-alone regulatory updates to the bigger topic of community vision and the Town of Jackson and Teton County are no exception. In 2017, the planning departments took a new and innovative approach to regulatory updates to address this challenge. This new approach included a coordinated effort to update four sets of regulations dealing with zoning, affordable housing and natural resource protections.
“It is an honor to be recognized nationally for the work we are doing here locally,” said Tyler Sinclair, Town Planning Director. “I am very proud of the work we have done to try to engage all members of the community on issues affecting us all, specifically through Engage we were able to discuss trade offs between four different areas of regulation, something that is very difficult to do across the nation.”
Engage 2017: Zoning, Housing, Parking and Natural Resources was spearheaded by our local planning departments to communicate to the public how updates to four sets of regulations impact both jurisdictions and are connected to the shared community vision. Four separate regulatory updates were branded under one initiative and shared a common timeline. By addressing all four updates simultaneously, the jurisdictions were able to engage in more meaningful discussion and decision making with local citizens to achieve the larger community vision of ecosystem stewardship, growth management, and quality of life.
“The Engage 2017 process is a blueprint for engagement processes in other communities,” said Bruce Hawtin, Teton County resident and architect. “The level of community engagement with the Engage projects is a reflection of how serious we are about our future.”
Engage 2017 was about community engagement. Over the span of a year and a half, Town and County planners held 9 outreach events, collected data from 5 surveys, and brought the Engage projects before elected officials at over 30 meetings. Three of the outreach events were held in Spanish, catering specifically to the housing needs of the Town and County’s Latino population. During this time over 30 presentations were given to community groups and stakeholders including conservation advocates, pro-business organizations, affordable housing non-profits, real estate agents and developers, and neighborhood groups to name a few. In all, over 1300 residents participated in the outreach efforts and more attended the public meetings.
Established more than 50 years ago, the APA’s National Awards program is a tradition that recognizes achievements by individuals, planning departments, government agencies and private firms for their leadership and innovation on planning issues. Representatives from Jackson’s Planning Department and Teton County’s Planning Department were on hand in San Francisco on April 15, 2019 to receive the award.
“We knew that balancing the updates to our housing mitigation requirements with a rezone of most of the land area in town would be a difficult needle to thread,” said Mayor Pete Muldoon. “The process set up by our Planning Department rose to that challenge - it engaged the public on their terms and ensured that they would have input before the updates were drafted. It avoided the temptation to try skip that engagement, and instead put it front and center in the process. I believe that is one of the fundamental reasons our efforts were successful.”
The Engage 2017 project plan can be viewed by CLICKING HERE or visiting: www.jacksontetonplan.com/149/Engage-2017. For more information visit the Town of Jackson’s website at www.townofjackson.com or call the Town Hall at (307) 733-3932.