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Housing project postponed over septic concerns

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BIG SKY – The Gallatin County Planning and Zoning Commission on Sept. 13 postponed approval for 265 proposed housing units to be built along the stretch of Highway 191 between Michener Creek Road and Lone Mountain Trail. The commission raised concerns that if the project’s septic system failed it could flow into the Gallatin River.

The units, consisting of 130 apartments above retails spaces and 135 single-family homes, would be built over the next 10-15 years and are in part intended to serve members of Big Sky’s burgeoning workforce; currently struggling to find residential footing in the community. One project lending aid to the issue is the Big Sky Community Housing Trust’s 52 deed-restricted Meadowview Units.

With a hotel and access to the Big Sky trail system, the development would appear to be a no brainer for the community, but in a bid to avoid the necessity of obtaining a discharge permit from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the developer, Big Sky Rock LLC, opted for smaller, shared systems capable of handling fewer than 5,000 gallons per day.

The discharge permit required by DEQ comes with a host of subsequent compliances and monitoring measures. According to a report in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Big Sky Rock LLC is working with DEQ on the proposed septic system design, and would join a centralized system should one be instituted.

At a Sept. 17 Big Sky Water and Sewer District meeting, Steve Johnson, a member of the Gallatin Canyon/Big Sky Zoning Advisory Committee, urged members of the board to consider creating a water and sewer district for the developments and residents of Gallatin Canyon, as that population grows concurrently with that of the census-designated area of Big Sky.

“These are things we need to be thinking about and planning now,” Johnson said at the meeting, noting that Big Sky has historically missed the boat on infrastructure while there was still time to meet growing population needs.

Such a district would diminish roadblocks for housing and commercial business, as experienced by Big Sky Rock LLC.

Representatives from Big Sky Rock LLC did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

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