By Joseph T. O’Connor Explore Big Sky Senior Editor

BIG SKY – The Big Sky Chamber of Commerce announced on Oct. 18 that the volunteer-based Big Sky housing committee had selected a consultant to perform a feasibility study for a local housing development plan.

Economic and Planning Systems, based in Colorado and California, was one of three companies that submitted proposals to the committee, headed by the chamber, which was granted $80,000 in resort tax last June for this specific study.

“The big thing that gave EPS a leg up was that they had quite a bit of experience working in resort-based economies and they planned on coming [to Big Sky] three times,” said the chamber’s executive director Kitty Clemens, who has headed up the housing committee since it began meeting last February.

The organizations’ proposals were based on a scoring system, which included each company’s past experience with housing development plans, its approach to this particular project, and whether it could submit a proposal within the $80,000 budget.

Each proposal fell under the price cap, and EPS is charging $60,000 for the study, Clemens said. EPS’ plan combined with legal work and expenses for public engagement will allow for the project to stay on budget.

EPS has in the past worked with Teton County’s housing plan in Wyoming, in Telluride, Colo., and has ongoing projects in Aspen, Colo, she added.

According to its proposal, the land economics consulting firm has also worked in “Whitefish and Bozeman… on affordable housing issues, identifying market and affordable housing needs and gaps, structuring housing plans, strategies, and policies using a variety of best practices tailored to local and regional market forces and realities.”

Representatives from the company will be in Big Sky Nov. 12-13, during which time they will hold a project kickoff meeting, consult landowners, tour potential building sites and begin an economic analysis, Clemens said.

Daniel Guimond, Principal at EPS, says he’s looking forward to the opportunity to work in Big Sky.

“We have a reputation of doing sound, objective research,” said Guimond, who opened an EPS office in Denver in 1999. “We’ll try to hone in on what segments of the housing market are in most need of assistance and will work with the Big Sky community and the Chamber of Commerce to identify the mechanisms or approaches that are needed to address these housing needs.”