Monthly Archives: March 2013

Bitterroot Planning Board to Make Recommendation on Legacy Ranch Wednesday March 20th.

Tomorrow at 3 pm in the Commissioners’ conference room, our Ravalli County Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the Legacy Ranch subdivision proposal. They will review all of the material presented to date, accept public comment, and then make a recommendation to the Commissioners for approval, denial, or approval with modification. The commissioners will hold their deliberations at a public hearing on April 29th.

The Planning Board needs to hear from you! It is time to stop kowtowing to speculators and pay attention to our communities. The Legacy Ranch subdivision as proposed clearly has impacts on such review criteria as the Natural Environment, Wildlife, Agriculture, and Public Health and Safety that cannot be mitigated. Thus, a recommendation for denial of the application is appropriate on the merits.

This is a bipartisan threat; whether your politics are Left, Right, or Independent, this is a bad idea. Not only because it fails due to unmitigated impacts, but also because it flies in the face of numerous county policies (eg the Natural Resource Use Policy) which rightly identify the importance of protecting our rural environment and the enterprises that have historically defined our local custom and culture (agriculture and ranching). The Legacy Ranch subdivision is directly in conflict with this policy. It is a bad idea!

Prior to the hearing at 3 pm, Bitterrooters for Planning will have a table outside the County Administrative Center with information to assist you in preparing input to the Planning Board and ultimately to the County Commissioners. We will also have a sign-up sheet for those who want to be involved in continuing efforts to stop this subdivision. Please stop by, say hi, and join the fight!

Kelsey Milner
President, BFP

Public Hearing on Legacy Ranch Wed March 13

This Wednesday (March 13th) at 6:00 pm in the Lone Rock School gym, the Ravalli County Planning Board will continue to accept public input on the Legacy Ranch subdivision. This is a continuation of the public meeting held last week (March 6th) in Hamilton.

Lone Rock School Gym, 1112 3 Mile Creek Road, Stevensville, MT

View Larger Map

The Legacy Ranch subdivision proposal has been around since early 2006. It calls for 500+ units on 368 acres of bottom land immediately adjacent to, and draining into, the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. It calls for 15 building phases over a 36 year period. At build-out it would add more than 9,000 car trips/day to the Eastside Highway and double the student enrollment at Lone Rock.

The developer has been struggling for almost 7 years to achieve “sufficiency”, a label that the Planning department awards when the proposal contains all required elements in sufficient depth and completeness for public review. For reference, State and local subdivision regulations specify a maximum 2-year period for achieving “sufficiency”. The developer was unable to adequately address issues regarding water, wildlife, septic, and road safety and was thus denied “sufficiency” numerous times. It is not clear from the record how the “sufficiency” period was extended beyond the two year period. Finally, however, Ravalli County adopted new, less restrictive, subdivision regulations in June of 2012 and the proposal was able to achieve “sufficiency”. The Planning staff then recommended approval, with conditions, to the Planning Board. The Planning Board has scheduled a meeting on March 20th to make their recommendation to the Commissioners. The Commissioners are then scheduled to review the application on April 29th. The application is now clearly on the fast track to approval.

The Legacy Ranch subdivision should be turned back. Please attend the Lone rock meeting on Wednesday and give your Planning Board an ear full about how (1) this subdivision fails to be in the public interest in any fashion, and (2) its impacts on water, wildlife, the Refuge, public safety, schools, and our rural custom and culture, are unacceptable. Ask them to recommend denial to the Commissioners.

The Legacy Ranch subdivision documentation may be obtained from the Planning Department in Hamilton. They have a hard copy to examine at their office (3 binders), or CD’s to purchase ($5), or they will download to a flash drive for free.

Lastly, please notify as many friends and neighbors as you can about this meeting and urge them to attend and give voice to their concerns. The process is heavily stacked in favor of the developer and it is essential we demonstrate substantive opposition.

Thank you, and look forward to seeing you on Wednesday evening in Lone Rock!

Kelsey Milner, President, BFP


Planning Board to consider approval of the Legacy Ranch Subdivision

This Wednesday, March 6th at 7 pm, the Ravalli County Planning Board has scheduled a hearing on the Legacy Ranch Subdivision in the Commissioner’s Conference Room on the 3rd floor of the Administrative Center located at 215 South 4th Street in Hamilton. Based on their review of the proposal (and public comment), the Planning Board will make a recommendation to the BOCC for approval, rejection, or approval with conditions.

We urge you to attend the Planning Board hearing this coming Wednesday, March 6th at 7pm in the Commissioner’s conference room and ask the Board to reject this proposal.

The proposed Legacy Ranch Subdivision is a 500+ unit planned community with a 30 year build out in 15 phases on 368 acres located between Stevensville and Florence, between the Porter Hill and Dry Gulch roads. It borders the Eastside Highway and is immediately adjacent to the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. This development was first proposed in 2005 and has been semi-dormant since the economic crash of 2008. However, recently the proposal was reactivated and the application has been deemed “sufficient” for review by the Planning Board and the BOCC (12/03/12).

This subdivision proposal should be rejected. It calls for a complete town, bigger than Corvallis, to be plunked down right next to a National Wildlife Refuge; it will add 9000+ trips per day to the Eastside Highway; it will double the enrollment in the Lone Rock schools; it removes prime agricultural and ranching land from production; it threatens the refuge with water and septic pollution; it does not consider traffic impacts in Stevensville or Florence or on the feeder roads in the vicinity of the new town; it uses data primarily from 2005, which is now 8 years old – have things changed at all; it does not consider any new information, such as that contained in the County’s Natural Resource Use Plan (2012) or in the County’s Land Suitability Analysis (2008) – both of which appear to be relevant. It is difficult to understand how this subdivision is in the best interests of Ravalli County citizens. Read more in the document below – it will take a few seconds to load.

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