Citizens of Ravalli County, you have been dismissed.
Last week, despite overwhelming and substantive opposition from the public to the thirty-year construction zone in a formerly-rural corner of our valley adjacent to the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, the Ravalli County Commissioners unanimously approved Legacy Ranch Subdivision.
That’s right. A handful of Ravalli County Republican Central Committee (RCC) operatives—including RCC chair and Planning Office Manager Terry Nelson, RCC precinct captain and Legacy developer Alexandra Morton, and of course the five RCC commissioners who owe their catbird seats to the likes of Nelson, Morton and other developer interests in this valley—not only unanimously approved this inappropriate monstrosity, they unanimously ignored your public comments and concerns one by one, point by point. In fact they hired an extra lawyer, on top of the SIX the county already retains, to do this work for them
This seventh lawyer repeatedly advised the commissioners to “capture” the multitude and valid concerns you raised, and then dismiss them, one by one, by claiming that all the horrible results that will inevitably follow such a poor land-use decision will be “mitigated” by private, unenforceable covenants and “notices.” As stated above, each and every one of these cynical condescensions to our democratic process and your concerns was “concurred with” unanimously. There was no debate between the commissioners—and certainly none between the developer and Nelson’s Planning Office–about whether or not the developer has a right to claim that unenforceable “covenants” and “notices” can count as mitigation for such an alien creature as Legacy, or even about the propriety of dismissing citizens’ heartfelt concerns so offhandedly. Remember: public comment was done. The public was not allowed to talk during these final proceedings. In other words, only the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee operatives (the developers, the commissioners, the planning staff) had a place at this table. Not a one of them was disagreeing with the proposal, let alone advocating for anybody except the developer. A more incredible example of abnegation of public responsibility would be hard to find, although this commission has come up with some doozies in that regard ever since the extremist commission took over county government in 2010.
Consider: THIRTY YEARS of construction on that little piece of rural property. In one fell swoop, the Republican Central Committee, euphemistically known as your county government, has declared that you and your children, and even your children’s children have as much right to peace and quiet as any city-dweller. In other words, if you can’t afford a castle and a spread the size of the Mortons’ estate up against the mountains west of Victor–complete with government firefighters ready to protect that castle in the event of inevitable forest fires–then you and yours don’t deserve any peace at all, ever again.
Contrary to news reports, the commissioners did not “ban” woodstoves. Just like so many other blow-offs of the public’s sincere concerns, the commissioners merely requested that a restriction on woodstoves be placed in the notices and covenants. Now ask yourself: who is going to enforce all these “mitigations” and which commissioners are going to do anything about it if they don’t get enforced? Are you aware of ANY homeowner’s association that isn’t dysfunctional in this valley? Remember the homeowner’s association dispute that ended in a shooting up Little Sleeping Child recently? Is that really the kind of government these commissioners think works best? Put bluntly, homeowner association “covenants and notices” are not restrictions or legal “mitigations” at all. Eventually, and probably soon after “phase one” begins, they will all be ignored, and we who are already here, whose lives will certainly be degraded by this renegade decision, will pick up the tab, while the commissioners’ political benefactors – the developers – whistle to the bank.
The decision to allow Legacy Construction zone into your rural backyard is bad enough. But when you consider the screaming conflict-of-interest issues between the developer and the commissioners, between the “planning board” and the Republican Central Committee, I think most reasonable, agenda-free folks on either side of the political divide will agree that this debacle is not only not the Good Government we expect from our paid help, it’s not anything close to our cherished democratic process, and is therefore un-American.
This is the price You The Taxpayers are paying for the Republican Central Committee’s (euphemistically known as your county government’s) extreme ideological purity.
How’s that feel, folks?