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Big Sky committee recommends county deny Flatiron zoning

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The proposed boundary of the Flatiron development is nearly 500 acres and is split between Madison and Gallatin counties. MAP BY ME BROWN

By Bella Butler EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – The Big Sky Zoning Advisory Committee today unanimously voted to recommend that Gallatin County deny a proposed nearly 500-acre Big Sky development known as the Flatiron project.

At its meeting today, the committee revisited requests from the large-scale project for a Planned Unit Development and a handful of building and traffic variances that Flatiron’s developer brought to the committee’s Aug. 2 meeting. At the time, the five-member committee, which advises the Gallatin County Planning and Zoning Commission on Big Sky and Gallatin Canyon zoning matters, said it lacked information to recommend approval or denial to the county.

Flatiron developer Middle Fork Properties LLC returned today with just one of the four variant requests it had originally applied for. Of Flatiron’s proposed 473 acres in the Lone Moose area below Big Sky Resort’s Thunderwolf chairlift, 350 lie in Gallatin County and the rest are in Madison County. 

The public comment period on the matter lasted more than an hour today, with several people ranging from Lone Moose residents to concerned Big Sky citizens bringing forth questions, concerns and disapproval for the project.

Members of the public and committee members raised concerns over traffic, environmental impacts, water rights and other pressures they say the 1,440-unit development would put on the community and surrounding landscape.

Brian Gallik, an attorney representing Flatiron during the meeting, said the zoning application for a PUD is just one of many applications the developer would need to file. For example, he said, questions about water rights will be answered by other entities like the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

“This is simply the first step in that process,” he said.

In its decision, the board leaned heavily on its duty to the Big Sky community. Committee member Philip Kedrowski read aloud the review criteria the Gallatin County Zoning Administrative Regulation provides for consideration of a conditional-use permit.

Kedrowski said that based on public comment, the applicant did not seem to meet some of the criteria including that “the use will not adversely affect nearby properties or their occupants” and “the use conforms to the objectives and intent of the applicable District Regulation and applicable growth policy or neighborhood plan.” Fellow members agreed.

“Our job as a local advisory committee is to hear and to represent the views of the local community,” said committee member Steve Johnson, “and we’ve had overwhelming input from the local community that nobody can wrap their heads around this thing … I feel completely obligated as a servant of the local community to agree with denial.”

Committee member Kyle Wisniewski made the motion to recommend denial of the PUD application. All committee members, including Wisniewski, Kedrowski, Johnson, Josh Treasure and Becky Pape, voted in favor of the recommendation.

The committee did, however, vote unanimously to recommend approval of the applicant’s single requested variant on features of the access roadway design, including minimum design speed and curve radius.

The Gallatin County Planning and Zoning Commission will consider both Middle Fork’s application for the variant and the PUD at a hearing on Oct. 14 at 9 a.m. in the Gallatin County Courthouse Community Room.

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