If you are a Bitterrooter you either have lived here your whole life, or you are a transplant. If you are a transplant you love this valley and appreciate it perhaps even more, because you know from where you came. Most of us transplants chose this valley not because we wanted to change it and make lots of money, but because it has a soul like no other place.
All of you have, over the years, listened to the ravings of those against zoning proposals and opposition to a growth policy, sold to citizens all under the guise of freedom and property rights. Believe me when I say those politicians at the county who govern us have no intension of backing down. They have no interest in listening to those who are adamantly opposed to the Legacy Ranch proposal.
This was all planned by the powers-that-be. There is a great deal of money to be made and the county’s cooperation is needed, so all can get a piece of the pie. Others involved are naïve and just don’t think it will ever happen.
Most of the people in Stevensville are asleep at the switch. They think this Legacy Ranch proposal will only affect those who live in the immediate area. It will not only affect all of Stevensville, it will affect the whole valley.
The powers-that-be have left us wide open for any developer to come in, sell us a bill of goods and fill this valley with so-called affordable housing, sandwiched in on tiny lots, on prime agricultural land with no public sewer system or public water supply. We have no protection.
Most people do not realize these developers are not local. These are outside forces with lots of money who have no other place to go. They have worn out their welcome and plundered their way across the nation. They have found the Bitterroot, a prize of unmatched beauty, and have decided there is “gold in them there hills.”
So what do we do about it? The planning board has proven it is useless. The commissioners will get together and figure out which one of them will approve and who will disapprove, all the while making certain it passes with a majority vote. So there we have it. This is the type of government protection we have in this valley.
However, not all hope is lost. If there is a ground swell of opposition from the whole town and everyone who is opposed writes letters to the DEQ, the DNRC, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, all other conservation agencies and our state and federal legislators, these developers won’t have a chance. People have great power. Let’s use it, and leave our children a legacy of which we can be proud.