Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Breaking News
Home » New West Network Topics » Development » Bitterroot Resort Applies For Drilling and Wastewater Permits
The Bitterroot Resort has yet to submit their subdivision application to the Missoula County Office of Planning and Grants, but the size and scope of the expected application is already creating some waves. County officials don’t know when the developers will have an application ready for submission, said Bill Carey, Missoula County commissioner. “There’s really nothing to begin work on yet,” Carey said. However, he’s sure that the application will be enormous and will require not only county agencies, but also state agencies to work together on processing all the aspect of the applications. “I think (agency cooperation) is going to be very important because the magnitude of this thing is going to be huge,” he said. “I think we’ll be breaking new ground with whatever we do.” Already, the Bitterroot Resort has applied for two applications with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. One is for drilling test wells and another is for discharging 400,000 gallons of wastewater a day, said DEQ subdivision review director, Steve Kilbreath.

Bitterroot Resort Applies For Drilling and Wastewater Permits

The Bitterroot Resort has yet to submit their subdivision application to the Missoula County Office of Planning and Grants, but the size and scope of the expected application is already creating some waves.

County officials don’t know when the developers will have an application ready for submission, said Bill Carey, Missoula County commissioner. “There’s really nothing to begin work on yet,” Carey said.

However, he’s sure that the application will be enormous and will require not only county agencies, but also state agencies to work together on processing all the aspect of the applications.

“I think (agency cooperation) is going to be very important because the magnitude of this thing is going to be huge,” he said. “I think we’ll be breaking new ground with whatever we do.”

The Bitterroot Resort’s subdivision application, just like any other, will go through a myriad of agencies, which will recommend changes and sign-off on mitigation proposals.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will look at the impacts to wildlife and habitat. Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation will look at water rights and possibly dangers from wildfire. The local fire departments, school district, and sheriff offices will all get input.

The county planning board will review the subdivision based on recommendations by the planning department. The board will consider impacts, hold public meeting and eventually send up a recommendation to the Missoula County Board of Commissioners, who have the final say on approval.

Currently the Bitterroot Resort has applied for two applications with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. One is for drilling test wells and another is for discharging 400,000 gallons of wastewater a day, said DEQ subdivision review director, Steve Kilbreath.

Kilbreath admits the amount of wastewater is enormous, but it’s also on par with a 2,000-unit development, which is about the size officials expect in the Bitterroot Resort application. As a rule of thumb the average dwelling discharges about 200 gallons of wastewater per day.

As a number, 400,000 gallons a day is hard to understand. It’s enough wastewater to cover more than an acre of ground a foot deep. A 2,000-unit development would be bigger than Darby and Stevensville combined.

Tom Maclay, developer of the Bitterroot Resort, has long stated that the wastewater treatment facilities at the resort will be “state of the art.” He has also said he intends to use treated wastewater to irrigate the planned 18-hole golf course.

As far as transportation goes, Maclay has also expressed interest in a mass transit system to service the resort, which could include both busses and trains.

But as of yet, none of these ideas have been clearly outlined for Missoula County to consider and likely won’t be until a subdivision application is submitted.

As Mea Andrews of the Missoulian reported last week transportation to the development, which could generate enough traffic on Highway 93 to require freeway-style road access, is already a big concern for the Montana Department of Transportation.

The DEQ hasn’t seen a full application yet and won’t unless the subdivision is approved. At that point all the drinking water, storm water and wastewater issues will be reviewed, he said.

“Approval is not a foregone conclusion you have to demonstrate to us that you can do what it is you’re asking to do and meet all our standards,” Kilbreath said.

Typically, bigger subdivisions applications go through three to five iterations before they’re approved, he said. Basically if the water isn’t there in the aquifer or can’t be discharged adequately, then something must be done for the DEQ to sign off. That could mean decreasing the size of the development.

Maclay isn’t sure when a subdivision application will be submitted to the Missoula County Office of Planning and Grants.

His team of experts working on the application includes WGM consulting in Missoula. The application is in a refining process, Maclay said.

“There’s no reason to hold ourselves to a timeline,’ he said. “It’s a matter of working through the best process.”

About Greg Lemon

Check Also

One Big Sky Center

Hammes Company Joins One Big Sky Center Venture in Billings

Billings, Montana is moving ahead with discussions on the One Big Sky Center proposal, which ...

7 comments

  1. Friends–What a great project this will be for our State!
    This is the greatest economic engine to come to Montana!
    No smokestacks! Perhaps our children will now have a way to earn a living in the Big Sky State!

  2. Great article. Now I know what the Resort’s pr people were so worried about when they sent a shameless mailer to all the valley’s residents with Tom’s ‘straight talk’ about the resort a couple weeks ago. Or when they began recruiting the likes of Ski Star Scott Schmitt or the UM snowboard club to help promote the deal? Statistics like 400 gallons of waste continue to tell the truth about Bitterroot resort: it is an investment strategy not a resort.

    This is not a resort that evolved a public demand need for skiing. This is an idea of a shameless native who wants to use public resources to bennefit private investors and make the most from his land. The real money from the resort won’t come from skiing; it will come from real estate 2,000 units plus every other parcel that will enrich the property’s value.

    And to Bill Zader, who’s certainly earning his pay on the surrogate press front, how exactly will this project give our children “a way to earn a living in the big sky state?” As a former industry employee, maybe you could tell me how seasonal minimum-wage service industry jobs will help better the state’s economic base? Or, perhaps, Bill could tell us how many of those jobs are guaranteed to locals? How many will have health insurance and other bennefits? How many will be seasonal, part-time, or as is the case at Big Mountain and across the industry –filled by international temp-workers hired by an outside agency? By the way Bill, international temp-workers don’t pay into the tax base. Aside from a few local restuarants, gas stations, and hotels, who exactly is going to bennefit from this in a meaningful way?

  3. Can’t decide if Bill Zader is being sarcastic or not, what with all his exclamations points and all! Seems just a bit too enthusiastic! He apparently doesn’t live in the Lolo Creek watershed or northern Bitterroot Valley! If he did, he’d be horrified at the idea of a development “bigger than Darby and Stevensville combined” being imposed on the land and residents!

  4. Who’s going to benefit? How about the Electricians, Plumbers, Carpenters, Caretakers, Engineers, Roofers, Architects, Contractors, Landscapers, Utility workers, and any other hardworking entrepreneur? All these people will help “better the state’s economic base”.

    Last year, the Bitterroot population voted to require any new subdivision to have a minimum lot size of 1 acre. Imagine 2000 homes being built on 1 acre lots up an down the bitterroot in the next 10 years. Now imagine those 2000 homes all having individual septic systems. That is a lot worse than a 2000 home community with a State of the Art Waste Water Treatment Facility that needs to meet EPA regulations as well as report to the EPA the details of their operation.

    Development is going to happen and I can think of no better way to accommodate growth than this plan. By the way, name one resort that is not an investment?

  5. Curious Bitterrooter

    Curious, what’s the status of the Resort’s application for expansion on to the Forest Service managed property? Thanks for an update anyone might have.

  6. For years I have heard people complain about Motana’s dependence on extractive industries and how it was OK that the mines and mills were closing, because in the long run the value and asset that was going to drive our economy was the scenery and quality of life and that would translate in to clean, tourism based industries.

    Now we have a planned, destination resort which of course has no smokestacks, no leach heaps, etc. and the same people who were proclaiming the value of this type of development don’t want it now. Because, yes there are impacts such as water use, waste water treatment, traffic, etc.

    But, I think a planned, clustered development of 2,000 homes is still better than a manufacturing plant or smelter. And 2,000 homes on a sewage treatment system are better than 2,000 homes, each on an individual septic system sprawled over 10 miles of the valley. Are some of the jobs seasonal and low paying yes, but there are many more full time, good paying jobs in a four season resort than most people realize.

    No one will protest when a new Target store gets built 10 years from now in Victor, yet most of the jobs will be low paying and very few of the dollars generated at that store will stay in the local economy.

    I know it’s human nature to resist change, but change is going to happen. We just need to focus on manageing that change and quit wasting our energies on trying to stop it. Lets make sure the Bitterroot Resort is done the right way, don’t give them a free pass just because they will create jobs and stimulate the economy. But, on the other hand don’t protest and penalize them either for making changes, for having a vision that includes outdoor recreation, real estate, increased tourism visitation, jobs, etc.

  7. The Bitterroot Resort is a frightening proposal looming on the horizon. Bitterrooters should take heed of what just went down in the little community of Greenough, up the Blackfoot, but still in Missoula County. A well informed and strongly organized group of folks were able to prevent the Clearwater Meadows subdivision proposal; 119 lots planned just adjacent to the Clearwater Game Range. Missoula County Commissioners unanimously voted to reject the proposal because of water quality, lot density, fire protection and traffic concerns. And all this without zoning. It can be done!