The Town of Stevensville is reviewing a subdivision application for Burnt Fork Estates, a planned residential and commercial addition to the town that has already raised some notes of alarm amongst a few adjoining neighborhood residents despite the fact that no public meetings have yet been held to consider the project.
The proposal, submitted by Dwight and Ralph Hooley of Burnt Fork Enterprises LLC in January 2020, is to create a 137-lot subdivision on the 57.68-acre parcel, consisting of 78 single family lots, 43 multi-family lots and 16 light commercial lots. The development lies adjacent to Creekside Meadows subdivision and runs south along Logan Road to Middle Burnt Fork Road. The single-family lots are planned to go in adjacent to the Creekside Meadows subdivision and the multi-family lots will be installed to the south. The commercial lots will be developed on about 10 acres further south alongside Middle Burnt Fork Road.
The subdivision is planned to be completed in phases with a phase completed every other year starting with Phase 1 expected to be completed by December 31, 2022 and the final phases in by December 31, 2030.
Burnt Fork Estates proposed phasing schedule:
PHASE 1 = 13 LOTS – DEC. 31, 2022
PHASE 2 = 24 LOTS – DEC. 31, 2024
PHASE 3 = 19 LOTS – DEC. 31, 2026
PHASE 4 = 22 LOTS – DEC. 31, 2028
PHASE 5 = 23 LOTS – DEC. 31, 2030
COMMERCIAL PHASE = 16 LOTS – DEC. 31, 2030
For many years the land has been a grazing meadow for cattle. It was flood irrigated from diversions of creeks flowing from the southeast. When Ellison Cattle Company decided to subdivide the land in 2003, this 57.68 acres was included for the final three of the five original phases of the development. Ellison completed the first two phases of Creekside, but did not continue with phases 3, 4 and 5. So the land remains undeveloped, although it has been annexed into the Town of Stevensville and zoned for residential use. Due to the passage of time since the original subdivision approval, the Town has determined that a new preliminary plat application is needed.
When the Town of Stevensville annexed this property, they zoned it for single-family and multi-family use. R-1 single family zoning runs from Phase 1 of Creekside Meadows south to the quarter section line in the middle of the property. “We intend to leave this zoning intact,” it states in the proposal, “thus protecting the residential pattern of Creekside development and extending it well into Burnt Fork Estates.” R-2 zoning was applied to the remainder of the property running south to Middle Burnt Fork Road.
The developers propose to leave most of the R-2 Zoning intact but are requesting a change to light commercial zoning for the southerly 10+/- acres adjacent to Middle Burnt Fork Road. The developers claim the change is appropriate, given the pattern of development extending up Middle Burnt Fork Road from Town. They claim that Pantry Partners and the school bus storage area are typical of the low intensity commercial use that they anticipate.
The roadways that loop through the subdivision will be connected to the existing roads in Creekside meadows except for the central road, Clover Lane. According to the developers, the cul-de-sac was created in response to talks with Creekside Meadows residents which indicated a desire to limit through-traffic between the two developments.
The developers made other changes in response to meetings with a committee of representatives from the Creekside Homeowners Association. They also propose a two-acre common area placed between the two developments to address the committee’s desire for some open space between the two developments.
The developers expect to turn the water rights on the property over to the town.
Within the subdivision there are three parks, or common areas, accessible to all the residents via the proposed boulevard sidewalks. These parks provide an essential function for the residents of Burnt Fork Estates by offering central gathering areas for recreation that are a vital component of the overall recreational needs of the neighborhood’s residents. While the developers recognize that these common areas are designed to meet the needs of the residents of Burnt Fork Estates, these areas also reduce the demand of the residents on the use of other City Parks, it states on the Town’s website.
The parkland dedication requirement for residential lots of this size is 11% of the net lotted area. The developers are proposing to plat 34.31 residential acres, so the required parkland is 3.77 acres. The proposed Common Areas total 4.5 acres, which exceeds the requirement. There is no parkland requirement for commercial lots.
The applicants have met with Town officials and Fire Chief Jeff Motley regarding the location of a fire station on Lot C12, adjacent to the Middle Burnt Fork/Logan Lane intersection. While the discussions have not finalized this transfer, the Hooleys believe this could become an important asset for the Town of Stevensville and so they have included this as part of the subdivision proposal.
Some people have already questioned the ability of the town’s water and sewer systems to handle the increased population. Town officials addressed that question in a letter of verification sent to the developers last October, stating that based on the Town’s 2016 Growth Policy, the town’s engineers have determined that Stevensville’s water and wastewater systems have adequate capacity to serve all developable property currently annexed.
The Town continues to work with DNRC on a permit for the Well Field located in Twin Creeks subdivision. This permit will update and broaden the place of use for municipal water. A change application will be required to include this development in Stevensville’s place of use, as the parcel currently lies outside of the permitted place of use.
The town’s water rights attorney believes that it is likely the Town has adequate rights currently to serve the development. However, it may require the transfer of some or all water rights associated with the property to the Town in order to mitigate future water usage by the development. This would be determined prior to plat approval.
The Town also acknowledged and expressed support of an approach onto Middle Burnt Fork Road, and an approach on Logan Lane between Creekside Drive and Middle Burnt Fork Road.
According to the letter, the Town is currently in the process of determining whether Middle Burnt Fork Road and Logan Lane are within the town limits.
“At this time, we have not come to a conclusion and as such maintain the systems and processes for streets and traffic in place today. Therefore, the approach permits would be subject to Ravalli County review and approval, with the support of the Town of Stevensville,” the letter states.
The first public meeting concerning the proposal will be a publicly noticed Planning and Zoning Committee meeting in early September. It will appear before the Town Council for a Public Hearing and a meeting, probably later in September, according to Mayor Dewey. He said state law provides a mandatory timeframe for considering a subdivision proposal and this one requires the town to make a decision by October 1, 2020.
Anyone with questions about the proposal may contact the Town of Stevensville at 777-5271.