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Big Sky's Quarry project takes another step forward

Real estate assets strategies and markets gainesville atlanta ga

A development in Big Sky received further approval from the Gallatin County Commission on Tuesday for its second preliminary plat application despite concerns over the impact on nearby water sources.

The Quarry project, just south of Montana Highway 64 along U.S. Highway 191, will provide the Big Sky community with new housing availability as it seeks to build 12 residential lots containing 135 single-family and 130 multi-family dwellings and 170,000 square feet of commercial space across another 11 lots.

Big Sky Rock, LLC., represented by Scott Altman on Tuesday, received initial approval for the planned unit development in 2019 and preliminary approval for an eight-lot subdivision in 2021.

This week’s approval will add four additional lots for 45 dwellings that Altman said would allow developers to more efficiently begin construction before their eventual final plat approval. “In essence, what we’re talking about is 12 lots (and) to get the lots in the final plat, we’ve got to get the roads in,” Altman said. “Putting the infrastructure in with the one that you’ve already approved, really helps the project in the long run.”

Much of the discussion around the project, however, was spent fixated on septic and sewer plans for the development and its potential impacts on water supply, a contentious topic in recent years. Although the development is not a party to it, a lawsuit was filed by Upper Missouri Waterkeeper against Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality for its alleged failure to consider the impact of septic systems in close proximity to the Gallatin River.

Most recently, a Gallatin County judge rejected an attempt to dismiss the case. Altman said this week that, as far as he’s aware, the lawsuit is continuing to move through the courts. Ultimately, Altman said the plan is to connect The Quarry to the recently founded Gallatin Canyon County Water and Sewer District but until that district — of which Altman is the president — is completed, The Quarry will rely on a SepticNET system.

The Gallatin Canyon Water and Sewer District was formed in 2020 and seeks to remove homes from their septic systems within Gallatin Canyon near the entrance to Big Sky. Eventually, the plan to filter the district’s water through Big Sky’s new central treatment facility, making use of a planned pump station.

Recently, the Chronicle reported that the Big Sky Resort Area District board is considering a $10 million purchase of two properties at the intersection of highways 64 and 191 to construct a new traffic circle to ease congestion and a potential location for the new pump station.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Altman told the Chronicle that the pump station will be key for the district’s eventual success but that other locations are possible if the BSRAD property purchase were to fall through.

In regard to The Quarry, by building both systems, the septic system and connections for the eventual sewer district, Altman said it’ll be able to ensure that people can move into some of the units as soon as possible, without getting caught up in issues that may delay the water district’s launch.

“We really want to try and get people in there right now. We really want to get that infrastructure all at once — if we can put the lots in and roads in without having to put the septic systems ye, that’d be great but it seems to be that we have to have sewer on each lot in order to get final plat.”

He specified that The Quarry will eventually be connected to the district, he just didn’t have a clear timeline on when that would happen. Still, the commissioners voiced their abhorrence to The Quarry’s long-term dependency on the septic system, providing their support with the understanding that eventually, the development will be connected to the water and sewer district.

“I appreciate all the effort that is going on up there to eventually connect this development as well as neighboring properties that are on well and septic — many of which are deteriorating — to central water and sewer district… and my support for The Quarry project is contingent upon that eventual connection.” Brown said. “This would be a really inappropriate place to (stay on septic) given the underlying groundwater and health and safety concerns.”

Commissioner Jennifer Boyer said that when it comes to water quality and health and safety, she’d have no problem nixing the project.

“I understand the importance of getting housing — it’s pants on fire time to do it — the community is backing it, there’s a ton of public comment supporting it,” Boyer said. “But the long-term health of our river system… is a really high bar and I would delay the housing to make sure that secured.”


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