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‘Big Sky Quarry’ housing project moves forward

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For a full size image of the plans, click here.

By Brandon Walker EBS EDITORIAL ASSISTANT

BIG SKY – The 175-acre parcel of land currently occupied by the Big Sky gravel pit along Highway 191 took another step toward welcoming new occupants on Dec. 12 when the Gallatin County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a “Planned Unit Development,” or PUD, to local developer Big Sky Rock LLC.

The project, called “Big Sky Quarry,” calls for 265 entitlements, equivalent to front doors, throughout the PUD, and Big Sky Rock LLC plans to break the entitlements down between 135 single-family homes, along with an additional 130 two-bedroom condos. The condos will likely be housed upstairs from the nearly 180,000 square footage of commercial space that was also included in the PUD, according to Scott Johnson, a partner of Big Sky Rock.

Johnson says the goal is to bring more housing options to Big Sky. “We’re trying to solve a problem,” he said. “The last thing [Big Sky] needs is more mansions, so to speak, when you need to address the workforce housing … That’s what we’re trying to do with this project and that’s why we went with the original zone changes.”

The single-family homes will vary between 700 and 1,500 square feet and will form small communities, according to Johnson, each with about a dozen homes accompanied by trails and playgrounds.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to design it to where we can take those 135 homes with a roughly 135-acre envelope, but still provide 70 percent open space,” Johnson said. “We don’t plan on touching a lot of the land, so that’s where that cluster [or] pocket neighborhood concept comes from.”

Prior to the commission’s approval of Big Sky Rock’s PUD, the land had been slated to only allow one home for every five acres, but now it permits one home for each acre of the parcel after Big Sky Rock applied for and was granted a Zone Map Amendment in 2018.

One of the largest concerns with the original proposal, voiced by the commission as well as the Big Sky community, was a potential adverse effect that the development’s septic system might have on the nearby Gallatin River. Although their initially proposed septic system was approved by the state, the county requested the developers find a better alternative. After further research, Big Sky Rock found a satisfactory system; SepticNET, manufactured by a Butte-based company.  

After review, Johnson and his team believe the new septic system they plan to use will be a significant upgrade to the original plan, treating the water at a higher rate. According to Johnson, SepticNET has been producing septic systems for a little over a decade and has 65-plus systems currently installed throughout the state. “We’re trying to keep it affordable, and [while] this new system is roughly 50 percent more expensive than the other proposed system, it’s 70 percent more efficient, which we felt was even more important.”

The next steps in the process for Big Sky Rock LLC will be to apply for subdivisions. “As we get our financing and get our designs completely finalized, we will be submitting our application for first phase, pre-plat, of subdivision of phase one here hopefully next year in 2020 and getting the infrastructure that we need to create a neighborhood,” Johnson said. The project is anticipated to break ground summer of 2020.

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