What does the Legacy Ranch Subdivision mean for you the taxpayer? And you, the resident of this beautiful Valley?
After you get through all the cut -and-paste fluff which is standard to any subdivision submittal, ie. Notifications re wildlife, bird seed, wood stoves, junk vehicles, archaeological site restrictions, etc., and work your way to page 11, you will find this: #13—“approval from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality AND/OR the Ravalli County Environmental Health Department for the individual septic systems and drainfields shall be submitted to the Ravalli County Planning Department prior to final approval . . . In other words, the state DEQ does not have to approve the individual septic systems, but rather entities which have already been shown to be falling all over themselves to approve the subdivision—the Planning Department, the County Commissioners, and the Planning Board. Further, there is no zoning in Ravalli County, no impact fees requirements, so a subdivision with plans out into the indefinite future approved now will have no restrictions. If their presence becomes untenable later, too bad.
Schools: Ravalli County has not adopted impact fees; therefore Legacy is only offering $200-$400/residence voluntary contributions to Lone Rock and Stevensville to mitigate costs. Legacy has to provide bus turnouts but not the money for the buses. The Bitterroot Star recently published a letter which stated that a Corvallis district independent study found each new residence costs its school district $6,800, and a Florence study estimated a cost of over $10,000. These costs excluded new teachers’ salaries. Guess who is going to finance the major costs?
Fire Protection: In lieu of the water supply required by the NFPA, the Three Mile Fire Department has agreed to accept a voluntary contribution of $900 per lot, less than $450,000—an amount which will not cover the cost of one fire engine—to protect the developers’ projected 1,700 residents.
Traffic: What about Legacy’s traffic statistics? Completed in early 2006? From my experience in another state, I know that these are done at the convenience of the entity conducting them. And, for the most part, are conducted during normal business hours FOR THEM, ie. 8am-4:30pm. This completely disregards the early morning and late afternoon after-work commuter/school traffic to/from a subdivision of this size.
The amounts of the voluntary impact mitigation contributions offered by Legacy are not only laughable but insulting. Studies state that residents of subdivisions on a whole do not pay enough taxes to pay for the schools and government services they use. Jason Rice, Landworks CEO, recently discounted this but offered nothing to substantiate his rebuttal.
The engineering plans are supposed to be stamped by an engineer licensed by the State of Montana. Does this mean the Legacy developers’ engineering firm Territorial Landworks—a firm with a decidedly vested interest in this project and headed by CEO Jason Rice, Professional Engineer—can ethically stamp the plans? The words “professionally disinterested or neutral party” are missing.
Many of the documents in support of this subdivision are from 2005-2006. In other words, a rehashing of the “same-old same-old.” And those documents are fraught with the words “may” and “can,” not “must.”
What does it mean to you,the Ravalli County taxpayer? If the subdivision goes belly-up, will the Home Owners Association (HOA) take on all the responsibilities for which the developers have committed but will have no future responsibility? Or perhaps the county if the water and sewage plants go awry? A foreseeable risk of higher taxes exists for all Ravalli County taxpayers. And to all county residents? An impact on a way of life we all cherish.