Ravalli Co. to Deliberate Legacy Ranch - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Ravalli Co. to Deliberate Legacy Ranch

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Ravalli County Commissioners are set to begin deliberating a developer's plan for a 509-lot subdivision on 370 acres in the Bitterroot Valley.

Commissioners heard the last of the public comment on the Legacy Ranch project today in Hamilton.

Comments have been almost entirely negative during each of the six public hearings over the past few months.

Now, it's up to county commissioners to decide the fate of the proposed subdivision and they have a lot of work to do before they say yay or nay to the project.

The Ravalli County Planning Board and County Commissioners have each hosted three public comment sessions, allowing Bitterroot Valley residents to share their opinions and gathered evidence on Legacy Ranch.

"There's like five huge binders -- like this -- with information that we've been going through to make sure we're up-to-date on this stuff," Commissioner Ron Stoltz said.

Stoltz said each meeting has been highly emotional, but he has to focus on abiding by state law on subdivision construction.

"As a commissioner, I can't vote on my feelings, I have to vote on what the law says and sometimes that is against public opinion, but that is the job we're given and sometimes it is tough," Stoltz said.

Legacy Ranch developers -- Sunnyside Orchards -- said the subdivision would provide family housing in a beautiful setting close to city services. However, Bitterroot residents say the large-scale housing project would put costly strains on existing infrastructure, and even contaminate well water.

"People have a lot of emotions on things, there's people that's moved here for different reasons. Some people have moved here thinking that nothing ever changes, there's other people that know it is going to change."

Stoltz said they'll work with the Department of Environmental Equality and other state agencies to determine if the subdivision plan meets all standards.

"So, it's a long way from being approved in my mind," Stoltz said.

Commissioners will review the large amount of evidence provided by the public before they begin deliberation on Monday.

Stoltz added, "I don't have myself set one way or the other, I want to make sure that I do everything to my ability, I want to make sure the law is covered and make sure everybody is heard."

The commissioners Legacy Ranch deliberation is open to the public, but it's closed to comment.

The deliberation takes place Monday at 9 a.m. in the commissioners conference room in the Ravalli County Courthouse.

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