The debate rages on over a proposed development in the Bitterroot Valley that would spread across prime farmland.

Wednesday evening hundreds packed the Lone Rock School gym in Stevensville to protest the proposed development.

At the meeting dozens of people stood up to speak their minds and folks were still commenting on the issue when NBC Montana left -- the same situation we saw last Wednesday when public comment lasted well over two hours.

Critics say if this development goes through it will be the creation of a new small town and they don't want it.  Most folks we talked to say they're concerned about what an increase of residents would do to local schools, the water supply and impacts on the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

Missoula resident Sara Grimes grew up in Stevensville and her parents still own a house there.  Grimes says she her family doesn’t want the development. 

“All I hear are the negative things it’s going to do to the valley which is such a beautiful place,” said Grimes.  “I think it's just ridiculous.”

Stevensville resident Trish Foster says she’s most concerned about the proposed development’s impacts on the nearby wildlife refuge. 

“What in the world was anybody thinking when they thought they could come in here and build all of those houses on that piece of property right next to a wildlife refuge?” said Foster. 

Developers say the land could suit 1,400 to 1,600 people on more than 500 lots.

Legacy Ranch is located northeast of Stevensville off the Eastside Highway, between Porter Hill Road and Dry Gulch Road adjacent to the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

Jason Rice of Territorial Landworks Inc. is a consultant on the proposed development.  He says he understands people may not want the development but it would be phased in over a number of years so folks could adjust. 

“The economics will drive itself,” said Rice.  “Whether people will be there to buy lots is all about whether or not they'll ever get built.”

No decision was made on the future of Legacy Ranch Wednesday night but nearly 100 residents voiced their concerns at the meeting saying they will stand their ground on the issue. 

We’re told the meeting is going to continue next Wednesday, March 20, in Hamilton at 3:00 p.m.