Community and Regional Planning Program


First Advisor

Zhenghong Tang

Date of this Version



Cook, T. (2019) Combating Zombie Subdivisions In Teton Valley, Idaho.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Community and Regional Planning, Major: Community and Regional Planning, Under the Supervision of Professor Zhenghong Tang. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2019

Copyright (c) 2019 Taylor R. Cook


This research examined the history, background, and viable solutions to deal with zombie subdivisions in the Teton Valley area (Teton County, Idaho). Overdevelopment, lack of responsible zoning code enforcement and the 2008 economic recession are just some of the key factors that contributed to the ongoing dilemma of zombie subdivisions in the Teton Valley. The current and past long-range plan for Teton County, Idaho was reviewed and analyzed to understand the workings and planning mechanisms that were and are currently set in place. Zoning code, Idaho state statutes and development agreements between Teton County officials and developers, were closely reviewed to understand the limitations on what ideas could potentially be used as recommendations, for the conclusion of the research. A case study was conducted on other areas situated in the inter-mountain west, that have experienced similar issues, regarding zombie subdivisions and overdevelopment. Major stakeholder groups in Teton Valley were consulted to further analyze the core issues of zombie subdivisions and understand what realistic solutions to the issue can be achieved. Environmental and local economic characteristics were examined, to provide a clear path to the conclusion of the research. The main environmental and local economic characteristics examined included preservation of farmland and habitat corridors, sustainable development practices, property taxes, and zoning densities. The conclusion culminates by providing a set of viable and realistic recommendations to answer the research question of whether it is possible to successfully and sustainably combat zombie subdivisions.

The concluding recommendations include an alternative development practice called Residential Development, implementation of smart growth practices, which are the use of Conservation Easements and Transfer of Developmental Rights, and zoning change recommendations. These zoning changes are centered around allowable lot densities. The findings of the research can help create local government accountability towards zoning and policy enforcement, along with strong cooperation with local farmers, local conservation agencies and developers. All these practices and principles that this research has examined, will hopefully help to lead the way to a vibrant and sustainable future for Teton Valley, Idaho.

Advisor: Zhenghong Tang