What a delight to wake up this morning to read the headlines that our county commissioners turned down a massive subdivision development on KM Ranch Road. There was much public involvement, which through their research and hard work, helped to educate valley residents and decisionmakers. I can’t stress the importance of community involvement. We have pleasantly discovered that elected officials and volunteer Planning Board members listen to their community members. I write this to encourage valley and Columbia Falls residents to keep up the fight before we lose our culture and the valley we love so much.
Here are just a couple things to remember. Gallatin County (Bozeman) let the ultra-rich (developers) move into that beautiful area, mega developments with no planning for infrastructure, including traffic and especially sewer capacity. (Not to mention developers are slick and smart and know how to deal with cities/counties and get away with no contribution to infrastructure.) They (Bozeman) are now faced with a $33-million sewer upgrade, or they will have to limit tourist, plus they don’t have it in their budget to do the upgrade. Flathead Valley is neck-in-neck with Gallatin County as far as capacity and infrastructure issues, especially traffic and sewer.
Another important point for decisionmakers to consider is recently in Columbia Falls a Florida developer hired an economist from Missoula to support his project, unbelievably this (bought and paid for) economist stated the valley needs 20,000 more apartments/houses by 2030 for in-migration people, not local working folks looking for affordable housing. As the developer stated, it’s not called affordable housing it’s called attainable housing with starting rates of $2a square foot. If Flathead Valley and cities don’t implement a slow down our culture and beautiful valley will be lost forever with citizens footing the bill for infrastructure costs and California traffic problems. Please, please stay engaged. It’s ours to lose.
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