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Commissioners OK 548-acre subdivision

| March 16, 2007 12:00 AM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

Commissioners from Lincoln and Sanders counties have given preliminary approval for a 548-acre housing development in the Bull Lake area.

Developer Plum Creek Land Co., however, is considering selling the land to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. The property is south of 1,000 acres Plum Creek sold to FWP a few years ago.

"We're going to see if they have an interest," said David Greer, development manager for Plum Creek Land Co. in Montana. "We'll know by June."

Selling the land to FWP has been debated all along, but Plum Creek also wanted the option of dividing the property for residential development, Greer said.

Should the developers do so, they must take steps toward final approval before selling lots, said Lincoln County planning director Mark Klinkam.

Plum Creek Land Co. has talked about dividing the property 20 miles south of Troy into 25 lots ranging from 20 to 28 acres. The entrance for the proposed Noggle Creek subdivision would be on Montana Highway 56 across from Bull Lake Rod & Gun Club.

The development would be limited to single-family homes with a minimum 1,200 square feet of living area. Fences for gardens would be allowed, however, perimeter fencing would not.

Required public hearings were held in both counties. Forty people attended the hearing in Lincoln County, while only a handful showed for the Sanders County hearing, Klinkam said.

There were more questions than opposition to the development.

With preliminary approval, Plum Creek Land Co. must now build roads or post a bond, which is a financial assurance promising to build roads, Klinkam said.

"To get final plat approval, it also allows them to go ahead with engineering of roads and designing drainage, which will come up for review by the Department of Environmental Quality."

DEQ also will review plans for sanitation. Environmental health issues need addressed.

"Once that's done, they can apply for final plat approval; it allows them to sell the lots," Klinkam said. "With preliminary approval, they can accept the money in escrow but cannot transfer titles."

During a public hearing on the development, a concern was expressed about whether or not the green bins for residential trash at the Halfway House bar would be adequate. Establishing another site on Bull Lake Road was discussed.

Now, bins would be placed on the 548-acre site, Klinkam said.