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L&C County Commission approves controversial new subdivision near Lake Helena

Posted at 6:31 PM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 20:46:37-05

After initially expressing concerns, the Lewis and Clark County Commission has approved a new phased major subdivision near Lake Helena in the North Hills.

Grand Vista Estates will be located between Collins Drive and Fantasy Road.

The 160 acre tract of land will be divided into 40 lots that range from 2.5 acres to 5 acres over four phases, 10 lots per phase. Each lot will be served by its own septic system and well.

Neighboring residents of Grand Vista Estates expressed concern over the smaller size of the lots and their effects on the water availability.

“[My husband] as a combat engineer is used to looking at terrain, looking at data on the ground and coming to conclusion,” said Lois Steinbeck. “After our meeting he told me this could be a disaster waiting to happen.”

Steinbeck added she isn’t opposed to developments, but worries with that many new wells it could potentially leave the other homes in the area without an adequate water supply.

She added digging a new well can cost thousands of dollars, and that burden shouldn’t be put on landowners as a result of the new development.

Steve Utick, who is developing the property with his family, said at the commission meeting there is enough water that it shouldn’t be an issue.

“One of the things that’s come up in numerous meetings is people using the fact that they don’t have enough pressure out if their well to, for instance, water their lawn and take a shower at the same time is an indication that there’s water issues in the area,” said Utick. “However, that has absolutely nothing to do with the availability of water. What that has more to do with is when they drilled their well they’ve used the smallest pump they can ‘get by with.’”

The Commission also expressed concern about the size of the lots, but say the developers are within their rights.

“I’m not real warm and fuzzy about the smaller parcels here, that’s not making me happy,” said Jim McCormick, Lewis and Clark County Commission chair. “But I have to make a decision based on the objective, legal information that I have.”

The Commission also encouraged people at the meeting to take part in the County-Initiated Part 2 Zoning for the Helena Valley public hearings happening this week.

Two public hearings will be held this week:

• December 18 at 6 pm at Montana WILD, 2668 Broadwater Ave.

• December 19 at 6 pm at Tri-Lakes Fire Station, 3200 Spokane Creek Rd.