The Ravalli County Commissioners gave conditional approval on January 3 to a 4-lot commercial subdivision extending south from Bell Crossing intersection along the west side of Highway 93. The subdivision, called Venture Way, was proposed by the Ravalli Electric Cooperative (REC) and lies between the highway and the company’s current facility located about one and a half miles north of Victor. The 21.9-acre parcel is being divided into 4 lots ranging in size from 3.38 to 8.5 acres. The intended use of the subdivision is for commercial business. The proposed lots will be served by individual well and septic systems.
Both the planning staff report and the Planning Board recommended approval of the subdivision request with some mitigation requirements as conditions of approval.
No impact on the school district is expected from the subdivision since it is for commercial development. But REC did agree to pay $300 per lot to the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office to mitigate impacts to public health and safety. The Victor Fire District will receive $900 per lot. The company also agreed to pay $5,247 as its pro-rata share of road impacts.
Issues such as increased traffic and lighting did draw some serious expressions of concern from a few people living in the area.
According to Bob Lee, REC Director of Support Services, the company was placing covenants on the property recommending that any lighting for new construction would be “full cut-off lighting.” A full cut-off fixture means a fixture, as installed, that is designed or shielded in such a manner that all light rays emitted by the fixture, either directly from the lamps or indirectly from the fixture, are projected below a horizontal plane through the lowest point on the fixture where light is emitted. The source of light should be fully shielded on the top and sides, so as not to emit light upwards or sideways, but only allowing light to shine down towards the subject that is to be lighted.
Lee said that it was also recognized that a riparian area exists within the subdivision along the southern boundary of Lot 4. “So, we placed a No-Build/Alteration zone around this area to preserve the riparian area for wildlife habitat and to ensure no building or alteration occurs in this area,” he said.
It was also noted that there will be no lawn or garden watering within the subdivision using groundwater from the wells. The commercial water use in the subdivision will consist of approximately 700 gallons per day per lot, for a total of 3.12 acre-feet. The 10-acre feet available to this subdivision is to be allocated evenly, with each lot receiving 2.5 acre-feet of groundwater from exempt wells.
Lee said a portion of an existing irrigation ditch will be placed in a culvert.
It is estimated that the subdivision will add approximately 388 vehicular trips per day to the road system. The entrance to the subdivision will be off of Bell Crossing West. Lee said that as he understood it, Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT) has already conducted a study of traffic at Bell Crossing intersection which includes a recommended solution, “but planning and funding for that solution are still a ways out.” He said that the County Commissioners have been ”super-supportive” in their efforts in getting MDOT to implement “an engineering solution” to a traffic problem that already exists.
According to Lee, the plan now was to start up with the installation of the infrastructure and the mitigation work this spring.
“Ultimately our aim is to get all the infrastructure in and meet all the mitigation requirements and get Final Plat approval,” said Lee, “then basically just sit on the property. We are certainly not in any hurry to develop the property at this point. But what we do want to do is be ready when the right opportunity presents itself.”
“This is very much a light commercial complex that we are hoping to encourage, including professional offices, clinics, and such. There is currently no one at all lined up to do anything here,” he said. “It’s a part of our business plan that goes quite far out into the future. This is just part of that.”