By Brandon Walker
BIG SKY – The settlement of a 2017 lawsuit has breathed new life into a local housing development. On Nov. 26 the Gallatin County Commission received a check from developers of the Powder Light subdivision in Big Sky, which solidified the settlement agreed to earlier this year.
The development aims to bring local employees approximately 200 additional rooms and will be situated east of Ace Hardware and Big Sky Vacation Rentals along Highway 64, commonly known as Lone Mountain Trail.
In addition to funding from a $10 million federal TIGER grant issued in 2018, one of the largest components of the settlement was a nearly $200,000 check signed by A2LD Development Co. to the GCC to pay for two right-hand turn lanes off of Lone Mountain Trail to alleviate congestion and potential vehicle accidents.
Located at the turnoff to Ace Hardware and at the easternmost entrance of the development, the turning lanes were required by GCC in the settlement and were the reason for denying the initial application, according to A2LD developer Scott Altman.
Construction of the two left-hand turn lanes will be paid through the TIGER grant, but the two right-hand turn lanes will be funded by the money A2LD paid from the settlement. “In order to give a full turn lane, we settled with them and said we would pay for those two,” Altman said. He added that the lanes must be completed before development takes place.
The TIGER grant, short for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, is supplying Gallatin County with more than $10 million to make upgrades to Lone Mountain Trail, helping alleviate the anticipated increase in traffic from the housing development, among other projects. The county’s decision to apply for the TIGER grant stemmed from the results of a 2017 transportation study identifying the need for upgrades.
Altman said A2LD is on the verge of selling the lots to John Bauchman, a broker with Big Sky Real Estate Co. “We close on Dec. 17 on that parcel,” Altman said. “It just took so long we’re not going to build them ourselves. We … put it in the covenants that it has to be employee housing to make sure that happens.”
County officials anticipate Lone Mountain Trail turn-lane construction will begin in summer 2020. Once the two right-hand turning lanes are complete, Bauchman can begin development of the Powder Light subdivision. Altman said he is encouraged by the headway the project is making as well as what the housing will mean for Big Sky.
“Our whole goal in anything we do is to make more employee housing,” he said. “This one, I believe, by the time it’s completely done will have probably 200 bedrooms on the site. That’s what we’re after because that’s what Big Sky needs to kind of keep going and be successful.”
Lot one is where Ace and BSVR are located. The remaining three lots will welcome the Powder Lights. Each of the lot’s zoning regulations require that a commercial space be present on it, but the remaining space on each lot will be open to employee housing.