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Afton looks at a plan for the future of the community

Afton is in the first stages of considering a comprehensive plan that will guide the community in the coming years.

The Town of Afton’s governing body met with Wyoming Business Council representative Elaina Zempel this past week to start the initial discussion for a plan. The meeting was designed as an open public session, but only community’s governing council attended.

Zempel told SVI News, the Star Valley area will be seeing more growth and she cautioned it’s not always good to let that happen without an effective plan.

“Star Valley and Afton are poised on the edge of growth,” Zempel explained. “If you let it happen without a plan, some bad things may occur.”
Zempel referenced other Wyoming communities that have already developed economic plans and are successfully using plans as a guiding document.

However, she advised that any plan has to start with a community’s decision on how it will prepare for the future.

“We will look for input from the community to see what direction they want to take,” she said in cases where the business council’s advise is sought.

Jonathan Teichert, Afton Town Administrator, said there was general agreement for a comprehensive plan, but he acknowledged that funds may be limited in the future, due to reductions at the state level.

Teichert said infrastructure, such as water, sewer and roads will be a priority for Afton in the future.

“If you can put a dollar in now, you save 6 to 7 dollars in the long run,” he said of the cost savings associated with construction that can be completed now.

Teichert said Afton’s business district was part of this first planning session.

“We talked a lot about the downtown (empty stores) and agreed it shouldn’t be a reflection of the economy,” He explained the recent closures of Kings, Wells Fargo, Robinson Motors and change for the Ford dealership were related to “corporate decisions.”

Agreeing the closures “look bad because of the empty store fronts,” he pointed out Afton has more commercial construction applications or business licenses under consideration than the remainder of the county. He referenced two applications for urgent care centers, a tractor supply store and a law office with other requests coming in for possible retail businesses. “We have several,” he said of the business inquiries.

He said the community will need to decide the extent of the town’s involvement in economic development.

“We will need some discussion, on what the role of government is for Afton’s future,” he advised.

Teichert said the council may consider a Wyoming Business Council program to assist with a comprehensive plan for the community.

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