Waterski Development Forwarded to Commission Again

By Beacon Staff

The Flathead County Planning Board once again recommended that the Flathead County Commission approve the preliminary plat for a housing subdivision that would include a manmade waterski lake.

Rosewater Subdivision is a proposed 58-lot major subdivision that would include 46 single-family residential lots as well as 12 townhouse lots, all set on 154 acres along Rose Crossing in Evergreen.

The developer, Bill Tanner of Score Management, LLC, also hopes to include a 27-acre artificial waterski lake, to be filled with water from the nearby Whitefish River through an existing pump station with an established irrigation water right.

The subdivision proposal is familiar to the planning board, which previously recommended approval in February and forwarded the matter to the county commission.

However, due to concerns raised about potential noise pollution, lake liner leakage and long-term maintenance and repair during the commission’s March 25 hearing, the commission voted to send the preliminary plat request back to the planning board.

Originally, the planning board accepted 34 findings of fact and 30 draft conditions from planning staff. The county commission felt that the new information received between the Feb. 13 planning board hearing and the March 25 commission hearing should be considered at the planning board level.

The commission did approve a planned unit development (PUD) request for the project on March 25.

The planning board met again on May 8 to discuss the noise, leakage and repair issues, and after hours of public testimony and presentations from the developer, decided to forward the project to the county commission with an additional finding of fact and an amended condition.
The new finding of fact, now known as No. 35, deals with the conditional use permit (CUP) that the developer must now go through if he wants to use the lake for waterskiing.

Most of the public comment against the subdivision included concerns about noise levels, as well as the developer’s plan to use the lake water to irrigate the subdivision common areas.

The development would sit above a perched aquifer, and the comments contended that the water from the lake – which would include a blue dye to block sunlight and thus inhibit plant life – would be too polluted for the environment.

The developer’s water consultant told the planning board that the lake would likely get almost fully replenished each year due to water turnover with irrigation and evaporation, and that the water would not be stagnant and polluted, as the neighbors fear.

A representative from Northwest Lining and Geotextile Products told the board that leakage fears are unfounded as well, because the proposed 30-milimeter PVC lining would be impervious to leaks and is what he considered “overkill” on thickness for a project settled on sandy ground without rocks to worry about.

Multiple neighbors told the planning board they were concerned about noise, and that the county would not have jurisdiction to regulate noise levels once the development is built. With that in mind, finding of fact 35 was written as: “The impact on public health and safety with regard to noise will be acceptable because the waterski lake will be subject to the CUP process per the Rosewater PUD, and the CUP process considers ‘typical negative impacts’ including noise or vibration and a CUP can be conditioned regarding noise and can be enforced by Flathead County.”

The planning board also amended condition No. 29, which previously stated that the applicant needed to provide an “emergency contingency plan for the proposed artificial lake.”

Now, the condition calls for the developer to provide an operations and maintenance manual, a draft version of which was submitted to the planning office after the February hearing.

The preliminary plat will once again go before the county commission for approval.

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