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Commission to consider Arlee housing development

by Lake County Leader
| June 16, 2022 12:00 AM

The Lake County Commission on Thursday will consider proposals for a trio of related subdivisions in Arlee that would be developed with a total of 99 lots on about 70 acres.

The Lake County Commission will discuss the proposal Thursday at 1:30 p.m. In May, the Lake County Planning Board voted 4-3 in opposition to each of the subdivisions.

Applicants Mike Bauer and Sean Amundson, on behalf of developer William John Armstrong, are planning the Serene Arlee project, which is located about a mile east of U.S. 93 in Arlee on the south side of Pow Wow Road, near the Arlee powwow grounds.

The Serene Arlee No. 1 subdivision would include 35 lots on about 24 acres. Plans show lots ranging in size from 0.5 to 0.75 acres, with a 2 acre common area that will include an irrigation and fire suppression pond.

The Serene Arlee No. 2 subdivision would include 35 lots on 24 acres, with lots ranging from 0.5 to 0.75 acres in size, with two 1-acre common areas.

The Serene Arlee No. 3 subdivision proposes 29 lots on about 23 acres, with about 2.3 acres of common space. Lots would be about 0.5 to 1 acre in size.

Each of the three subdivisions are planned to be developed with spec homes.

The subdivisions would be served by the Arlee community sewer system and shared wells.

The developer is asking for a variance in road standards to allow for two proposed internal streets to intersect Pow Pow Road less than 125 feet from a private unnamed road serving three homes. A second variance request would allow two roads to intersect at one point with a roundabout.

A traffic study for the three subdivisions anticipates 73 peak hour morning trips and 98 peak hour evening trips, and 935 new daily trips at full build-out. No capacity issues at highway intersections or on local streets are expected.

Various concerns were raised about the three subdivisions from area stakeholders.

The Arlee Volunteer Fire Department in March submitted comments to the county regarding its ability to serve the subdivisions. They suggested they would need a storage tank to refill the water tender in the event of a fire, as well as a ladder truck since the proposed homes would be two stories or taller.

A memo from CSKT Division of Engineering and Water Resources questioned whether the Arlee Water and Sewer District could handle the increased volume, and noted the project’s location to Jocko Spring Creek which is considered a fishery.

“It is difficult to envision a circumstance where groundwater abstraction from the proposed development would not have a net adverse effect on the legal and/or physical availability of water to Jocko River,” the memo states.

The memo also raised concerns about the irrigation plan using a surface reservoir.

Further, in May the Bureau of Indian Affairs said the plan to change the property’s water allotment under the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project from agricultural to domestic is not an authorized use.

The CSKT Tribal Preservation Department also chimed in and asked for the project to be denied.

“The town of Arlee has been identified as an important traditional landscape for all three tribes and an undertaking of this magnitude would have a negative impact,” a letter from Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Katie McDonald stated.

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