According to the April 24 edition of the Bitterroot Star, the Ravalli County Planning Board gave its approval for a 509-lot Legacy Ranch subdivision in Stevensville, Montana. All one can say is, “Shame on them.” What were they thinking?
There is not one person impacted by this monstrosity who is for it. The public is enraged and personally, so am I. Thirty-five years ago, my family and I escaped the East Coast to settle in this tranquil and beautiful valley, and here we go again, having to fight to preserve this precious pearl from individuals whose main purpose in life is pursuit of the money trail. The only reason for this subdivision is just plain greed. Unfortunately, this philosophy surrounds us on all sides, and where it will take us only the Lord knows.
Let us consider a few facts:
Water is one of our most delicate and fragile resources. Everyone is concerned about our low precipitation each year and yet the powers-that-be are willing to allow a massive subdivision that will pump millions of gallons of water from an aquifer that has the potential of being decimated. According to statistics, the average American uses about 80-100 gallons per day. Scary, isn’t it? Think about dropping 509 households in one place in this fragile environment. Can you imagine the impact this development will have on people’s wells in the outlying areas? I can.
There will be more cars on the Eastside Highway. After all, the people that buy these homes have to work somewhere and Stevensville does not have the jobs to support them, so off they go to Missoula or Hamilton (if they can find jobs there). There will be more cars on a road that cannot support this type of density. People in this subdivision will be using their cars all the time. They will have to travel everywhere, to shop, to bank, to go to school, to the post office, etc. They are too far away from the facilities they need to survive. As a result, we have more cars, more driving to and from and more pollution. Perhaps we can be forward-looking and eventually have another Super 1, a bank and maybe even a post office built in this area. Is this the way we want to go? Do we want to turn this peaceful, tranquil area into another mini city? This idea is not too farfetched. Remember, we have no zoning laws, no protection against the whims of unscrupulous developers whose sole purpose is to make lots of money.
Can you imagine the burden this is going to put on our school systems? According to the newspaper article, the developers have proposed a mitigation fee of $750 per lot to Lone Rock School District and $250 per lot to the Stevensville district. This is an insult. You know who will be paying the bill for the impact on schools. It will be us, the taxpayers. It is a fact that these homes never provide an adequate tax base for the services required.
The cross over of deer on the Eastside Highway is problematic. With the wildlife sanctuary in proximity, there is no way to prevent this carnage. This massive development will certainly have negative effects on the sanctuary and it inhabitants. In addition, surface water run off resulting from development of these houses could adversely affect the sanctuary.
No County Protection
It is the philosophy of the county to not accept any new road even if meets county specifications. So where does this leave the homeowner? The owner is left with the mess of providing for himself while the developer gets his money and smiles all the way to the bank. We cannot even trust our county to protect us from a development that will influence our way of life. It is unconscionable to allow a development of this size into a community where 100% of its people say, “No!”
Who will buy these homes? With the economy in its present state, does this rush to developing this area make economic sense? Will these homes be affordable much like the housing built by Bill Levitt in the 40’s and 50’s? He created these cracker box developments in New York and Pennsylvania. Levitt not only built homes. He built communities. Is this what we want? Do we want these developers to come into our town and determine what kind of community we should have? As far as I am concerned, the East Coast is a mess. Montana is the Last Oasis in America and we must do everything possible to preserve its integrity.
I remember an old adage my mother taught me many years ago. “Act in haste; repent at leisure.” Don’t you think this is very good advice?