Residents of the Creekside Meadows subdivision in Stevensville are disturbed by the proposal being put forth to build a 137-lot subdivision called Burnt Fork Estates adjacent to and connected to theirs. According to Jim Kalkofen, president of the Creekside Meadows Homeowners Association, although they did have some discussions with the developers about the proposal, they feel that their concerns have not been addressed. Their major concerns, he said, had to do with impacts on the town’s water and wastewater systems, increased traffic, no clear assessment of the maximum future number of families that could move in, an unacceptable request for a change in zoning to accommodate undefined commercial developments, a conflict in terms of covenants between the two subdivisions even though they propose connecting and combining them, and high groundwater in the area.
“We are not opposed to development,” said Kalkofen, “We are opposed to unreasonable and incompatible development.”
Creekside Meadows has 57 single family homes. The subdivision, as originally proposed, included five phases, but only two were completed. The last three phases of the subdivision were never completed, however. They would have added an additional 149 lots on the property now being proposed for new development as Burnt Fork Estates.
Kalkofen said their concerns about the impacts on the town’s drinking water and wastewater systems stems from an analysis of information contained in the Town’s Growth Policy. He notes that if phase two of the already approved nearby Twin Creeks subdivision were platted, that would add an additional 45 lots. He said altogether, with full subdivision approval and build out, there is potential for an additional 255 wastewater connections on lands currently within the Stevensville town limits, which exceeds the current capacity of the town’s wastewater treatment facilities. He quotes the Growth Policy again, stating that “the Creekside Meadows and Twin Creeks subdivisions have the potential to add an additional 255 water connections on lands currently within the town limits. This many new connections would bring Stevensville’s water system to capacity, requiring expansion in order to accommodate future connections.”
“This development will certainly require expanded and tax-payer funded water and wastewater facilities,” said Kalkofen.
Marilyn Wolff, vice-president of the Creekside HOA, said that traffic impacts have not been adequately assessed. She said that the traffic reports used in the plan contain no data for Logan Lane, a 22- to 24-foot wide roadway with no shoulders. She said the most recent data for the road from a county study in 2006 showed 1243 vehicles per day on the road.
The developer’s report states that when fully built out, Burnt Fork Estates would generate an additional 2146 daily trips. According to Wolff, “the report states that there will be an estimated increase of 500 vehicles per day, but this stretches logic to the limit based on the data provided. They use the figure of 121 residential lots, not taking into account that 43 of those lots are destined to become multi-family lots.”
She said that another problem is that a portion of the new traffic will be funneled through Creekside Meadows via Creekside Drive. She claims that this will significantly alter the quality of life in the neighborhood.
She said for this to move forward there should be plans for adding shoulders and turn lanes to Logan Lane road.
“We’ve got property rights too,” said Kalkofen. He said the proposed application uses big print when talking about 127 lots. “The small print tells the story,” he said. “The application never really mentions the real number of families that could potentially move in.” He calculates that with 43 of those 121 lots being multi-family, the true number of families depends on the size of the multi-family developments. If they are duplexes, he said, the total number of families comes to 164. If they are triplexes the total would grow to 207 and if four-plex units were built out, the total number of families would come to 250. Add an additional 16 commercial lots using an unknown amount of water and it becomes very concerning, he said.
“Until all the facts are on the table, this application should go nowhere,” said Kalkofen. “All planning and zoning board members, Town Council members and resident taxpayers should be alarmed,” he said. “If such a project would be approved, the very real possibility is that huge sums of taxpayer dollars would be needed to create new Town water wells and add capacity to the water system.”
Kalkofen said that the proposed 17-lot commercial district on 26 acres is not slated to be connected to the subdivision at all and will have its own entrance and exit on Middle Burnt Fork Road. He noted a proposal to create a commercial development on 26 acres across the road was denied in June of 2020.
“The goal should be to fill the downtown with any projected businesses,” said Kalkofen, “not set them up far away from the traditional Stevensville business district.”
Another major concern the homeowners in Creekside Meadows have, according to Kalkofen, has to do with the proposed covenants for Burnt Fork Estates.
“The developers have stated publicly that their covenants were modeled after and similar to the Creekside Meadows HOA adjacent and north to their property,” said Kalkofen. “That is not exactly accurate.”
He said the Burnt Fork Estates covenants allow for two-story homes, which creates the option of building four-plexes on the multi-family lots.” He said other differences include the lack of any roof-line limit, or anything about storing tractors, wagons, wheelbarrows, snowblowers, mowers, and garden equipment, etc. inside. He said there were no restrictions for activities that would be an annoyance, nuisance, noxious, or illegal.
“The vague wording about unsightly conditions does not address unkempt lot conditions,” he said. He said the covenants do not address how many family units may live inside a single residence.
He said there are no restrictions against open fires, wood-burning fireplaces, or wood burning furnaces, all of which are banned in Creekside Meadows. He said lack of any parking restrictions was a concern.
Their last major concern with the proposal, said Kalkofen, was the groundwater situation. The application states that the groundwater table in the area is between 12 inches and 39 inches and extensive mitigation efforts are planned.
“But will it work?” asked Kalkofen. After outlining all the proposed mitigation actions, Kalkofen said, “If so much planning and effort has gone into trying to resolve the massive groundwater and runoff issues, are there any guarantees? Should a second engineering opinion be considered? Does it make sense to build on such wet land?”
Kalkofen said that the Creekside Meadows Homeowners would like to see all these issues addressed before the subdivision proposal moves forward. He said the Creekside homeowners were ready and willing to work out a more reasonable plan that would be complementary to the existing neighborhood rather than the unwelcome intrusion that is being proposed.