Landowners surrounding a proposed subdivision on the northeast edge of Stevensville were invited to a meeting last week to hear what the developer has in mind.
Fred Croci introduced himself, saying that he has been a real estate developer for 52 years and has developed “thousands of home sites.” He introduced his daughter Yvette Larson, a teacher at Stevensville School, and his son-in-law, Eric Larson, the new principal at Stevensville High School. Croci is working with consultants from PCI, Inc. who developed the site plan.
Croci said that he’s hoping to create 36 lots on the 16.6-acre property that is just north of Creekside Meadows subdivision. He said there would be two entrances onto Eastside Highway on the west and east end of the subdivision. The lots would be about 10,200 square feet and he expects the single-family homes would cost about $450-$550k. The property is already within the Stevensville town limits and is zoned R-1. Croci said he will develop the subdivision but he is not a builder and plans to sell the lots. Croci said he plans to have a home built and live in the subdivision “for most of the year.”
He said Swamp Creek runs through the property on the southern edge and he wants to preserve four acres along the creek as a “natural area.”
Croci did his best to answer questions and listen to concerns from the audience, some of whom at times expressed open hostility.
A major concern of the crowd was high ground water and surface water during spring run-off. He said all the houses will be on “slab and grade” with no basements allowed.
Croci said he may put in dewatering wells to lower the ground water, something he said he had to do in a Fort Collins, Colorado development. He said the wells would take the water out of the ground and put it in Swamp Creek and eventually the river. He said the Department of Environmental Quality would have to approve the system.
Bob Michalson, former Stevensville town council member, said that the town has serious water issues that have not been resolved and were basically ignored during the public hearings on the Burnt Fork Estates subdivision. “We all know what’s going on in our town. We feel like we’re just talking to the air,” said Michalson.
Croci said it was his understanding that water quantity is not a problem and that leaking pipes is a problem that the Town is going to address.
Steve Gibson, a former town council member who is running for mayor, said “The town is on water restrictions now. It would be common sense to say that there’s a capacity issue.”
Concerning increased traffic, Croci said the subdivision would add approximately 96 trips per day to the Eastside Hwy. Linda Lewis, who lives on adjacent property to the west of the proposed subdivision, said, “We’ve lived next to this property for 58 years. It’s already so congested we can’t get out of our driveway now.”
Leanna Rodabaugh asked PCI consultant Ron Ewert, “Is Mayor Dewey in favor of this?” Ewert said that this was the very first meeting and that the application has not yet been submitted to the Town. “The mayor doesn’t have the information yet.”
Regarding hooking up to the Town’s sewer system, Croci said he was hoping to buy a lot in Creekside Meadows, build a home and create a sewer easement from that lot to the new subdivision.
Michalson said that George Thomas, who retired as public works director for Stevensville after 28 years, had told him that “there wasn’t enough water. Then there’s a study that says there is enough water. Who do we believe?”
“I have to believe the people who went to school or this for four or eight years,” said Croci, “because if we can’t believe them, then this country is in a whole lot of trouble.”
He added, “I am here doing this due diligence on this project.”
Michalson said, “A subdivision can be denied due to public comment even through Mayor Dewey said it couldn’t be denied.”
Rodabaugh said, “Are you hearing us? You need to hear us.”
“I’m listening,” said Croci.
“You have bought a nice piece of property that’s not fit for development,” said Rodabaugh.
“That remains to be determined,” said Croci.