MISSOULA, Mont. - Ravalli County commissioners have officially approved the Legacy Ranch subdivision in the Bitterroot. It's a roughly 600-unit subdivision and one of the largest planned developments in Ravalli County's recent memory.
More than 100 people spoke against it and a handful spoke for it in interactions with County Commissioners during meetings on the subject. Opponents have concerns about water quality, loss of agricultural land, and public health and safety. Supporters say the project is a good way to accommodate planned growth in Ravalli County in the coming years.
Jason Rice, CEO at Territorial Landworks, is a consultant for the developer and tells NBC Montana that he's happy about the decision. He says the project will provide good housing in a beautiful area.
Also on Wednesday, Ravalli County Commissioner Suzy Foss discussed the decision.
"This is a superior project. I've been told that it's the finest...it is the finest ever presented to Ravalli County...the amount of open space, the fact that they are going to put in their own water system," said Foss.
The decision is an approval for preliminary plans, and eventually the project will be analyzed by agencies like the Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Quality. Then it will head back to the commissioners.
The commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday, during a meeting that lasted more than 5 hours. The decision follows more than 150 public opinion letters.
Stevensville's mayor, Gene Mim Mack, also spoke with NBC Montana on Wednesday about his reaction.
"There are some potential upsides, but we think they're potentially outweighed by the downsides…the impacts that we're not able to mitigate," said Mim Mack.
Stay tuned to NBC Montana for future developments.