Well, folks, the deed is done. Once again, greed, complicity, self-promotion, and lack of any interest in preserving the integrity of the Bitterroot have won out. Soon we’ll be known as the Bitter-rot rather than Bitterroot. Lee Foss was awarded his permit for the site on Blood Lane south of Hamilton. He claims he has no knowledge of any store interested in purchasing the site, stating “People can’t afford to pay a bunch of money for land on a maybe.” So, he has invested $10,000 on the permit, and state officials say consulting fees could run $30,000.
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DEQ Issues Permit to Big-Box Location in Bitterroot Valley
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In the November election, voters decided we wanted to have a say in the direction the County would be heading in the next 10 years. We voted for the Government Study—one of only a few entities in Montana to do so. This says a lot about the character of the people who live in the Bitterroot. The next obvious step is for those of us to voted for the Study to attend the various meetings that will be held throughout the Valley. Let’s have civil conversations with those elected over what is important to us. Hopefully they will listen closely when people start offering suggestions and will look for ways to accommodate a bit of everyone’s input. Not wishy-washy compromise where everyone ends up feeling shorted; rather, a coming together which leaves attendees with a sense they played a part in advancing what is best for the County.
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Ravalli County Government Study Meetings–When?
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The scheduled meeting with the DEQ on the permit for a “big-box store” treatment facility was interesting but unproductive. DEQ had not visited the site until the day of the meeting (September 18th), depending on the developer for all information regarding the piece of property. Lee Foss did not attend. I would assume so he wouldn’t be put on the spot when asked questions. Foss is only requesting a residential permit with a treatment facility processing between 5,100gpd and 6,400gpd maximum, Monthly SELF-monitoring is all that is required, with the DEQ saying they might be checking it out on a yearly basis. A 35gpm (50,400gpd capability) well has been drilled and approved. If I lived near the site, I’d be worried about my well. It was evident DEQ had no information on ditches and water table.
Hamilton is hosting the Montana Association of Planners this week. The group’s mission is to guide and shape the communities they live in – focusing on land use, preservation, transportation, parks and economic development. I can’t figure out why Ravalli County is part of this group. We have no land use policy, no zoning, no impact fees, no growth policy, no fast internet service, and our economy isn’t in great shape either.
The Association was looking for nominees in the following categories: Professional Achievement, Communications Initiative, Distinguished Leadership by a Professional Planner, Distinguished Leadership by an Elected Official. Well, there’s another issue we don’t have to think about.
The comment period for the DEQ application for a proposed “big box” store to be located south of Hamilton has been extended to October 2nd. You can read the full story in the Star. There will be a community meeting on September 18th, 5:30pm, at the Bitterroot River Inn followed by a meeting with the DEQ.
The economic aspects may at first look very appealing—an increase in the county tax base and more jobs/reduced unemployment, more money being spent in the Valley from the increased payroll. Less appealing is what would undoubtedly follow.
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How Would a Big-Box Store Affect Hamilton
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Commissioners Vote for Fair Levy, Eliminate Fair Expenses in General Fund
to Add Funny Money to County Coffers
After passing a levy (not time limited so far as I can see) to pay for lawsuits, Commissioner Chilcott stated the county budget was still bare bones and the only expense left to cut was employees. To most residents, that is a no-brainer—cut the number of commissioners from 5 to 3. The commissioners responded to public outcry and moved to put it on the November ballot. But, alas, they were unaware of Montana Code Annotated time restraints so were unable to proceed.
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Smoke & Mirrors in Ravalli County Government
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When I was going to school in Butte, there were still “working girls” plying their trade in the red light district down on Mercury Street. The running joke was, “A student approaches and propositions (the offer) one of them. Her response—What kind of a girl do you think I am? Not to be deterred, he tries again (the offer). And again she responds—What kind of a girl do you think I am? Whereupon the student says, We know what kind of girl you are, now we’re simply negotiating the price.”
Real estate broker Lee Foss has applied to the DEQ for a Ground Water Control System permit for a parcel of land located at the intersection of Highway 93 and Blood Lane—specifically for a retail store in excess of 156,000 square feet. Doesn’t sound like a Mom & Pop Operation to me. Foss is the husband of Ravalli County Commissioner Suzy Foss, who was recently defeated in the June primaries. He will also be applying for a public water system permit for the site. Terry Nelson, appointed by the present Commissioners to the position of County Planning Department Administrator, said the county will not be involved because there is no zoning. This is the same County Commission which did away with zoning.
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The voters in Ravalli County overwhelmingly decided we didn’t like what we saw happening in the County, opting to give Commissioners Ron Stoltz and Suzy Foss, and Treasurer? Stamey the ole heave-ho. However, 342 voters were evidently satisfied with Stamey’s performance.
We met up with some friends for breakfast at the cafeteria, bought our poppies, and then went out on the parade route to set up our table to distribute fliers about the upcoming vote on a County Government Review.
There were jumping goats and lots of dogs, not to mention political candidates and party members out in full force. County Attorney Fulbright marched behind horses with a shovel. I have no idea whether it meant he was cleaning up, or shoveling out the nasty stuff.