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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Page One News at a Glance

School nurses fill critical need

Idaho pesticides falling on valley

Plenty of public comment on zoning

Coalition asks county to change zoning courser

Stevi to make grant application for water system improvements

Stevensville officially annexes Twin Creeks

Help plan highway development

School nurses fill critical need

By Greg Lemon

She was the lady at school who blew softly on your scrapes and gently bandaged them. Her office smelled a little like the hand lotion your grandma used and a little like antiseptic, but somehow it wasn’t nearly as scary as the doctor’s office.

And when you went to see her, she had a magical way of making the hurt go away.

Sure, that description is idyllic, but it’s one many of us hold on to. If you took your scraped knee to Corinne Kunkel, school nurse at the Corvallis School District, her kind smile and gentle touch would keep you from ever wondering how a nurse as patient as her could serve three schools and 1,300 students.

You’d never know that even though she takes all the time she needs to gently pluck out a splinter, her laundry list of duties and tasks will keep her running all day long.

Kunkel is the only nurse in the Corvallis School District. She works four days a week and splits time between the grade school, middle school and high school.

The medical issues she tends to everyday vary from common scrapes and splinters to helping students who need a catheter to go to the bathroom or have to use a feeding tube to eat. Kunkel doesn’t work on Wednesdays and in her absence other school staff are trained to fill in.

In the Bitterroot Valley, Hamilton, Stevensville, Florence and Corvallis School Districts all have registered nurses on staff – one per school district. Lone Rock, Darby and Victor don’t have nurses on staff.

In Montana between 20 and 25 percent of schools don’t have school nurses, said Sue Buswell, president of the Montana Association of School Nurses.

Today, students in the public school system have a wide variety of health issues that range from complicated genetic conditions, to life-threatening allergies, to psychiatric needs, she said.

“The problems are bigger, but we have fewer and fewer school nurses,” Buswell said. “The problem that we’re having in Montana right now is I don’t think a lot of school districts realize the need for a school nurse.”

Barb Solomon, principal of Hamilton Middle School, knows how important her school nurse is to her staff and students.

Kristin Tolson is the nurse for the Hamilton School District. She works 24 hours a week and serves five schools.

“On the day she is here, we use her as much as we can,” Solomon said. “We feel lucky to have her at all.”

Schools have to have a medical plan for each student that has a medical condition that could affect their learning, whether it’s food allergies or a brain trauma, she said. The person who writes the medical plan is the school nurse.

In Hamilton Middle School alone, out of 365 students, 60 have individual medical plans, Solomon said.

“Every student who has a health issue needs an emergency care plan and sometimes a more detailed individualized care plan,” said Tolson. “There are more than 200 kids with health problems throughout the district.”

Each medical plan takes more than four hours to construct, she said. Two hours are spent reviewing the student’s medical files and then she meets with the parents and finally sits down to write the plan, she said.

Both Tolson and Kunkel would like to spend more time with students, but administering care plans and other paperwork take up a lot of time.

“The school’s getting big enough that I’m not getting to as many kids as I’d like to,” Kunkel said.

The National Association of School Nurses recommends that one nurse be employed for every 750 students, Tolson said. In the Hamilton School District, Tolson is the only nurse for about 1,600 students.

Both Tolson and Kunkel say that if they had more time, they could focus more on health education and screening, which could go a long way toward addressing health problems kids are experiencing, like weight problems, diabetes, and any other condition that affects a child’s ability to learn.

“You could make a case that school isn’t the place to provide medical care, but a lot of these conditions affect their learning, never mind their health,” Tolson said.

Buswell agrees – health is related to overall learning.

“Studies have shown that in schools with school nurses there is less absenteeism, fewer dropouts and higher test scores,” she said.

In Montana, schools aren’t required to have nurses on staff, said Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Linda McCulloch. That’s a requirement the state isn’t likely to institute.

“I don’t see it (becoming a requirement), because I think it’s a funding issue,” McCulloch said. “I know that being able to fund a nurse is something that every school district grapples with.”

However, Buswell and the Montana Association for School Nurses is planning to introduce legislation during next year’s legislature that would require schools to hire nurses.

“Our feeling is that every child deserves a school nurse,” Buswell said.

School nurses help keep medical costs down, she said. In many areas of the state, the school nurse might be the only healthcare professional a student sees on a regular basis.

“So we could be saving the state a lot of money – saving Medicaid a lot of money by early intervention and prevention, all the things that public health departments do to try to minimize disease and illness in the state,” Buswell said.

At Corvallis, Kunkel agrees with Buswell that for a growing number of students, the school nurse is the health professional they turn to for primary care.

Kunkel can give parents an idea of what’s happening with their child and can recommend them to a physician. Kunkel and Tolson also keep information on Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program on hand to give to parents struggling to cover medical costs.

In school districts that don’t have nurses, often it is the school staff that tends to medical needs, as best they can, Buswell said.

Even with a school nurse, secretaries and teachers are often called on to tend to cuts and scrapes, Solomon said.

“Ice is the new Band-Aid,” she said. “Our secretaries do all the boo-boo stuff.”

Teachers are often trained in handling emergencies and if there’s any question about a situation, the school doesn’t hesitate to call the student’s parents or 911 if need be, Solomon said.

Knowing the funding burden local school districts are under, Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital provides a grant to each school district requesting help in funding a nurse’s position, said hospital CEO, John Bartos.

Like Buswell, Bartos believe the school nurse is an important part of the healthcare system.

“We believe in school nursing,” Bartos said. “We see that as preventative care.”

School nurses can also be helpful to doctors because they’re the professionals that often see the student in a day-to-day routine.

“School nurses act as a liaison, not only for the teacher and the parent, but also to the physician in their observations in things they may observe in a classroom setting,” he said.

Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital gives Stevensville, Hamilton and Corvallis School District $6,500 each per year toward their nurses’ salaries.

“We plan on continuing to give grants to the schools that request them,” Bartos said. “It’s a way of the hospital giving back to the community.”

At the Corvallis School District, medical services are a necessity, said Daniel Sybrant, Corvallis Superintendent.

“We use our school nurse extensively in not only some of the day-to-day health issues with students, but we have a number of students with disabilities that actually have medical plans that if we did not have a school nurse on staff, we would actually be looking at contracting out (for the service),” Sybrant said. “We’re pretty fortunate that we have someone of her caliber.”

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Idaho pesticides falling on valley

By Michael Howell

Bitterroot wildlife rehabilitator Judy Hoy has been assiduously documenting developmental malformations of wildlife in the Bitterroot Valley for years. She has also noted that the kinds of deformities she is observing and documenting are similar to those that can be caused by exposure to certain chemicals such as Chlorothalonil, an ingredient in certain fungicides and pesticides. Since there is no great amount of use of such chemical fungicides documented in the valley, Hoy has speculated that the chemicals may be blowing in from Idaho on prevailing westerly winds. Now a recently released study done by the Department of Biology at Indiana State University in Bloomington gives more credence to Hoy’s theory.

The May 2008 Indiana University study, called a “Baseline Risk Assessment,” confirms Hoy’s notion that pesticides are blowing into the valley from fields in Idaho.

“Although the concept of long-range pesticide transport over the Bitterroot Mountains has been called into question, several studies confirm that this type of transport does in fact occur (Cohn et. al, 2004, Dommen et. al, 2003, Kim & Stockwell, 2007). Kim & Stockwell (2007) explained that air flowing over complex terrain creates a vertical component to the air stream and forces pollutants up and over mountain peaks. As the air is forced over the peaks, horizontal winds dominate pollutant transport. The colder air slows the reaction rates in the atmosphere thereby increasing the half-lives of the pollutants and allowing horizontal transport over longer distances,” states the report.

In their analysis, researchers used regional pesticide use data, atmospheric transport data, soil and water sampling data, crop data, chemical transport into site, and pesticide toxicology data.

The risk assessment identified several chemicals of potential concern (COPCs) for the study based upon their modeled air concentrations. Those chemicals included Alachlor, Chlorothalonil, Diazinon, DDE, and Trifluralin. The researchers conducted an exposure assessment as well as a toxicity assessment of those chemicals. They also compared their findings to the chemicals found in water samples in the Bitterroot River and a few rain water samples.

“Interestingly, the three COPCs (i.e., chlorothalonil, diazinon, and trifluralin) with the highest modeled air concentrations corresponded to 3 of the 5 measured COPCs determined from the USGS Water Quality Monitoring Data,” the report states. Those samples were taken from the Bitterroot River.

The researchers called the air modeling findings, “of considerable importance.”

 “This assessment explicitly indicates that long-range atmospheric transport and deposition of Idaho pesticides into the valley are occurring,” the study states.

Chlorothalonil is not much used in the Bitterroot Valley, according to the report, but has been used significantly in the potato fields of eastern Idaho, directly west of the Bitterroot Valley. It was estimated that 75 per cent of potato growers in Idaho apply four or more applications of fungicide every year. The three major fungicides being maneb, mancozeb and chlorothalonil.

Another thing the researchers found was that there was a high correlation between the rise and fall in the number of deformities in wildlife being documented in Bitterroot and the rise and fall of fungicide use just across the border in Idaho.

The report notes that following a potato blight that infected potato crops in Idaho in 1995, the use of fungicides in the state increased dramatically, reaching a peak in 1999 and then declining.

Around the same time, in 1995, Hoy began to notice skeletal and reproductive malformations in various wildlife in the Bitterroot Valley, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, bison, goats and birds.

“These malformations are consistent with the disruptive effects seen from endocrine dysfunction,” note the researchers. They also noted that “incidence of the abnormalities reduced after 2001, when use of extensive amounts of chlorothalonil on Idaho crops was curbed.”

“There appears to be a strong correlation with malformation incidence and pesticide use in Idaho,” the report concludes.

The study’s modeling results did not indicate high enough concentrations of the COPCs being deposited in the Bitterroot to indicate any appreciable risk of cancer related to the exposure. But that assessment was limited in that it did not account for any pesticide fallout from elsewhere in the region or even from overseas, or increased transportation through the air if combined with dust particulates.

The study also notes, for example, that “Based on the physicochemical properties and chemical structures of the pesticides used in Idaho, these compounds have the potential to bioaccumulate and cause endocrine disruption.  Endocrine disruption can result in both skeletal and reproductive malformation.”

But, “this project did not attempt to analyze the bioaccumulation of COPCs. It is known that several of these chemicals (e.g., chlorothalonil, DDE, trifluralin) both bioaccumulate and biomagnify. This behavior may obviously increase the risk from a chemical due to additive effects over time.  Bioaccumulation should be thoroughly evaluated in subsequent assessments,” states the report.

The report ends with recommendations for further study.

“While this assessment indicates there is acceptable risk or hazard to humans or wildlife in the valley from Idaho pesticides, uncertainties with this assessment (e.g., data gaps, model assumptions, etc.) should be thoroughly evaluated and addressed to the extent possible. As such, the findings of acceptable risk and hazard are not definitive. Further characterization of the study site is recommended. Without additional environmental investigation, the risk and hazard to humans and target organisms in the Bitterroot Valley cannot be fully characterized. A sampling plan should be prepared and reviewed by qualified scientists, and subsequently implemented in accordance with approved QA/QC procedures.”

A recent government study of toxic chemicals in National Parks, called the Dixon Landers study, after its author, also validates the idea that air-borne pesticides are falling out of the sky in areas far from their site of application. In that study significant amounts of mercury and pesticides were detected inside the boundaries of our national parks, where no pesticide spraying is permitted.

Hoy’s observations of malformations in wildlife in the Bitterroot have also been confirmed by Big Sky Beetleworks’ taxidermist Gary Haas and the owner of Domestic Critter Recovery in Stevensville, Russ Vogel.

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Plenty of public comment on zoning

By Michael Howell

Ravalli County Planning Director Karen Hughes delivered a summary of the public comments on the proposed Draft B for Countywide Zoning to the County Commissioners last week.  At least two of the commissioners remarked at how similar the public remarks are to the commissioners’ own comments concerning the Draft B regulations expressed at a previous meeting. They all point to the need to simplify the document and a desire for a less restrictive set of regulations.

The Planning Department received 165 written comments regarding the Draft B zoning regulations, representing the opinions of 218 individuals and 12 organizations and agencies. The Planning staff systematically catalogued, categorized, and summarized the various comments and presented those along with recommended revisions to the Commissioners in a memo.

From the 165 letters and e-mails submitted, Planning staff catalogued 1,109 specific remarks, each categorized by the topic of concern and the relative complexity of addressing the particular suggestion. This method of recording comments made it possible to identify areas of broad interest and general agreement.

By far the most comments received were about the proposed land use designations and accessory uses. Administrative provisions also received a hefty number of comments. The largest number of remarks – one hundred – had to do with agricultural uses and districts. Next came design standards such as parking, screening, fencing, and lighting, with 66 comments, followed closely by remarks about non-conforming use regulations (62).

About 365 comments were received suggesting less restrictive regulations. 142 suggested changes of approach toward particular sections of the regulations were in order. 133 comments suggested changes of wording or presentation to make things clearer. 65 suggested that more examination of the sections was required perhaps leading to addition of new concepts. 46 suggested more restrictive regulations in certain sections.

In addition to specific suggestions for improving the regulations, a significant number of general remarks were made in opposition to zoning. Thirty-eight per cent expressed general opposition to the Draft B zoning regulations. Eleven per cent expressed categorical opposition to zoning of any kind. Seventeen per cent opposed zoning for density or questioned its legality under Montana law. Twenty-seven per cent, the majority of which also expressed opposition to the zoning process in general, requested that any final zoning proposal be put to a vote of the general electorate.

The Planning staffs recommended guidance was organized into three parts: general comments, areas of broad agreement, and areas requiring further discussion and investigation.

The overwhelming sentiment among both supporters and opponents of zoning, according to the memo, is to simplify the regulations and adhere to the basic elements (considered by many to be establishing overall density patterns and avoiding incompatible uses), and not to be burdensome to the average landowner with excessive and detailed controls. They also called for clear, concise and plain-language regulations.

Areas of broad agreement were to maximize leniency toward agriculture by permitting agricultural uses in most, if not all, districts. They also called for a reduction of the 300-foot setback from neighboring residences and a minimization of restrictions on agriculture-related accessory uses. They called for allowing auxiliary commercial and industrial uses on agricultural properties to avoid limitations on farmers and ranchers who need to ‘subsidize’ agricultural operations with other business activities. They also called for ways to ensure the ability of agricultural landowners to extract value from their land.

Broad agreement was also expressed about the need to maximize leniency toward accessory and temporary uses. They called for clear explanations of the difference between primary and accessory uses and clarification of when permits are required. They called for removal of limitations on home occupations and allowance in all districts for small-scale, non-commercial agricultural activities, domestic animals and livestock, gardening and structures such as barns and stables. They called for relaxation or elimination of additional standards on accessory uses such as wind turbines, wireless communication antennae, and bed-and-breakfast establishments, as well as minimization or elimination of restrictions on temporary uses.

According to the memo, public comment also showed broad agreement over the need to maximize the leniency toward non-conforming lots, uses and structures and making administration of zoning a “hands-off” affair as much as possible. The need for permits should be minimal and acquiring the permits should be easy, inexpensive, and favor the applicant, according to the memo. It recommended elimination of all restrictions on lighting, parking, screening, fencing, and noise. Encouragement of commercial uses was also recommended by avoiding cumbersome regulations that may limit economic growth.

Many concerns were expressed about issues that need further discussion and investigation. They included concerns about the density restrictions, planned unit developments, cluster development, transfer of development credits, and restrictions on agricultural uses and resource extraction. There was some discussion of taking an exclusive approach to uses, that is, to specify what is prohibited, and presume all other uses to be permitted. The current proposal is the opposite. It lists what is allowed and presumes the other uses to be prohibited.

Commissioner Kathleen Driscoll expressed surprise at the close congruence between the public comment and comment given by the Commissioners on Draft B.

Commissioner Jim Rokosch said that the recognition of public input was exactly what was needed right now. Based on that, he said, the commissioners can now provide direction to Clarion, the consultant company helping to formulate the zoning regulations, in the preparation of Draft C.

Draft C is expected to be presented back to the public sometime in late July. Rokosch said that he expected the next draft to be “close to what we are looking for.”

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Coalition asks county to change zoning course

By Greg Lemon

In the wake of Darby School District’s landslide vote to opt out of the countywide zoning project, a diverse group of local citizens appealed to the Ravalli County Commissioners to change course and ensure the zoning effort is done right.

The group included a representative from the building industry, two ranchers and the leader of Bitterrooters for Planning, a local organization supporting the countywide zoning effort.

The main theme the group presented to the commissioners last Wednesday was that Draft B of the zoning regulations wasn’t appropriate for the Bitterroot Valley and it was time for the county commissioners to step forward and help steer a course toward a better zoning plan.

“I’m asking for leadership from the commissioners to work with Clarion to get it right,” said Andy Maki, a local farmer.

Maki was joined by Hans McPherson, Brian Glenn and Stewart Brandborg, all of whom presented a letter to the commissioners asking them to take a look at the current timeline for implementing zoning, pointing out that it is more important to have a quality zoning product than one that was rushed through to meet a timeline.

“We are not necessarily recommending that you extend the time frame or deadline for the project (although that may be necessary), but to adjust the process at this point to make it more effective,” reads the letter.

The four men represented a larger group that has been meeting at Casey’s Store on the Eastside Highway just north of Victor Crossing to talk about countywide zoning and to try and come up with a list of things they all agreed on. The group included builders, farmers, Realtors, businessmen, and members of Bitterrooters for Planning, said Hans McPherson, a local rancher and Montana Farm Bureau Federation district director.

Brandborg is the leader of Bitterrooters for Planning and Brian Glenn is a local builder.

The group that began meeting at Casey’s Store originally was mostly folks from the farming and ranching community, McPherson said in an interview after Wednesday’s meeting.

Matt McKinney, director of the Public Policy Research Institute in Helena, also helped organize the meetings. McKinney and PPRI have been hired by the county to help with the public outreach part of the countywide zoning project.

The meetings at Casey’s Store didn’t begin with any kind of objective in mind, McPherson said.

“It sort of just came about,” he said. “It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t orchestrated, it wasn’t ‘let’s get these people together.’”

But eventually different interests groups were invited with the hope of finding some common ground with the zoning, McPherson said.

The letter submitted to the commissioners was signed by 10 people and represented the things they agreed upon, he told the commissioners at the meeting.

To be sure, the group disagreed on many things, but ultimately everyone wants a zoning product that fits for Ravalli County’s needs, McPherson said.

Commissioner Carlotta Grandstaff was pleased that the group had taken the initiative to meet independently of the county and develop some consensus on aspects of the zoning.

“That is exactly what we intended through this (Community Planning Committee) process,” Grandstaff said.

But no one seems to doubt that a generally negative feeling exists for Draft B of the zoning regulations, she went on to say.

“Draft B is universally loathed,” Grandstaff said. “I haven’t heard anything positive about it.”

So on that, the commissioners agreed with the memo the group was presenting.

Since Draft B has been so unpopular, the commissioners have taken the time, as a board, to edit it down, she said.

As to the point of commissioner leadership, Commissioner Jim Rokosch told the four men that initially they idea was for the commissioners to stand back some.

“We didn’t want to set forth a predetermined idea,” Rokosch said. “Whether that was the best way to go? Well maybe not.”

“We’ve got to adapt to the process,” he continued.

Commissioners Alan Thompson and Greg Chilcott both said they would like to get back to the basics of what the state requires for zoning ordinances.

“When we talk about baseline zoning, I think the baseline is exactly what we need to talk about,” Thompson said.

The initial idea the commissioners started with was to have a grassroots effort that was based on citizen input, Chilcott said. But the initial draft of the zoning regulations was suited more for a suburban county, not a rural county like Ravalli.

“Our direction from that point on was kind of confused,” he said. “We’re a rural county, we have rural concerns.”

Now the commissioners are getting back to the basics – looking at conflicting land uses and how to address problems that comes from undirected growth, Chilcott said.

“Hopefully our goal is to minimize that conflict we see day-to-day,” he said.

McPherson suggested they commissioners tell Clarion Associates (the planning consultants hired to develop the zoning regulations and maps) to scrap Draft B and come back with something much simpler.

“I would tell them to come back with six pages max,” he said.

Ultimately the commissioners need to show that they are listening when the people of the county are saying that Draft B is bad and something else is needed, McPherson said.

“Now it’s time for you guys to lead,” he said.

If the commissioners step forward and get the zoning done right, then they can build back trust that has been lost with some of the citizens in the county, McPherson said.

The last recommendation contained in the letter the four men submitted to the commissioners asked them to publicly commit to a quality product, as well as recognize the current timeline might need to be adjusted. The group also wants the commissioners to publicly commit to not making any last minute changes to a zoning regulation without public input.

“If you cannot make this commitment, for whatever reason, we would like a response within a week of delivery of this memo explaining what makes that commitment impossible,” reads the letter.

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Stevi to make grant application for water system improvements

By Michael Howell

The Town of Stevensville held a public hearing last month to take public comment on a proposed grant application for Community Development Block Grant funds of about $450,000 for improvements to its water system.

The town water system was constructed in 1909, with a wooden pipe bringing water into town directly from Mill Creek and North Swamp Creek down Middle Burnt Fork Road. In the 1930s a subterranean infiltration gallery was constructed to collect shallow groundwater in lieu of direct surface water. In 1977 a rapid sand filter was constructed for further filtration of the collected water. In addition, three groundwater wells are in summertime use dating from 1958, 1968, and 1976. According to a statement from the Town, no significant or substantial improvements to the water system have been made since 1977.

But times are changing. The continuing depreciation of the Town’s water system along with changes in the Federal Drinking Water Standards, along with the Town being held to surface water standards, coupled with significant increased growth in demand, have combined to produce the need for improvements and upgrades to the system.

A prior water and sewer Facilities Plan, adopted in July of 1996, recommended several goals for needed improvements to both the water and wastewater systems. Recommendations for the upgrade of the wastewater treatment system have been funded.

In June 2004, the Town commissioned Professional Consultants Inc., to inventory and study the Town’s water supply, treatment and distribution system and prepare a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER). That report was adopted in June, 2006.

Problems identified in the report included water losses of over 350,000 gallons per day, amounting to about 40 percent of the annual production. Average annual use based on production is over 1,000 gallons per day per equivalent dwelling unit (edu), about twice what is expected, according to the report.

The system is over 40 percent un-metered and billing occurs on a quarterly basis. The report recommends billing monthly and metering all accounts.

The report states that the existing sand filter at the infiltration gallery “cannot meet current or future EPA requirements for treatment of the collected water. The infiltration gallery should be replaced with groundwater wells for a more consistent and protected source.”

The existing distribution system also requires replacements and upgrades to provide adequate fire flows and capacity for maximum day use.

Since the PER was completed, the Town has tested and replaced the pump in Well #1, but found the well is limited by sand production to 275 gallons per minute. Some progress has been made in identifying and repairing water leaks. Then, on May 29, 2007, the Town adopted a new water rate structure designed to cover the complete costs of operating and maintaining the system.

From there, the Town is now trying to implement the three phases of PCI’s recommended system changes and upgrades.

Phase One involves identifying and securing a well field site capable of producing 2000 gallon per minute annually. The Town has planned to do just that in a subdivision and annexation agreement with developer John Anderson which promises the Town a well field site and some water rights to go along with it. It also involves finding and fixing the water leaks in the system. These efforts are ongoing.

Phase Two, for which the Town is seeking $450,000 in CDBG funds, involves installing meters on 315 unmetered services, installing a radio read system and converting to a monthly billing system.

Phase Three would involve developing production wells of 1500 gpm and 225 million gallons annually, with a booster station and back up power. It would involve construction of a one-million-gallon ground level storage tank, and replacement of about 8,144 linear feet of pipeline to maintain system fire flows and maximum daily uses.

If the requested grant is approved, an increased debt to the community will occur to meet matching grant requirements. If all requested funds are granted the increased debt amount and costs to the community are estimated to be $9.58 per month.

The maximum debt amount if funds are not awarded is estimated at an additional $4 to $5 per month if the CDBG is not awarded, and up to $16 per month if no grants are awarded.

“But this would not likely be financially feasible for the Town and the project would have to be delayed pending receipt of additional funding,” states the report.

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Stevensville officially annexes Twin Creeks

Although the Town of Stevensville has approved a preliminary plan of subdivision development for John Anderson’s Twin Creeks subdivision, and approved annexation of the property tied to those subdivision conditions of approval on more than one occasion, nonetheless, Town Attorney Keithi Worthington recommended to the Town Council last month that it consider “officially” moving for annexation of the property once again, following some minor revision of the annexation agreement.

The development would create 117 lots on 42 acres located on the south side of Middle Burnt Fork Road.

Councilor Clayton Floyd expressed concern about water rights associated with the deal that were still pending, but said that those considerations could be worked out without delaying annexation.

Worthington stated that the annexation worked in conjunction with the conditions placed upon the subdivision. Those conditions, she said, spelled out the requirements that must be met for final plat approval.

“The big one being the ones dealing with the well and the water rights,” she said.

If they default, said Worthington, the Town could enforce the annexation with a financial agreement, or, if they don’t comply with that, they would default and the Town would move to de-annex.

“The intent is to give the Town some security that if they don’t follow through that we are not stuck with a parcel of land for which we would then have to provide services,” said Worthington.

The motion to annex the property was approved unanimously.

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Help plan highway development

By Michael Howell

A community charette is planned for this Friday to discuss proposals for stewarding development along Highway 93 through the Bitterroot Valley. The planned community discussion about development along the Highway is the result of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to the Bitter Root Cultural Heritage Trust (BRCHT).

BRCHT, with letters of support from the City of Hamilton, Stevensville Main Street Association, Bitterroot Good Neighbors Coalition  and the Ravalli County Commissioners, applied for and received a Your Town grant of $20,000 to help initiate a community discussion aimed at producing a plan for development along the highway that would provide for efficient movement of traffic, increase opportunities for economic development and protect the scenic values along the route.

The first workshop is planned for Friday, June 13 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Hamilton City Hall. BRCHT has put together an impressive team to support the discussion. The list includes Michelle Bryan Mudd, Assistant Professor and Director of the Land Use Clinic at the University of Montana School of Law; Richard Hawks, Chairman of the Department of Landscape Architecture at CESF/SUNY; Karen Hughes, Ravalli County Planning Director; Chere Jiusto, Executive Director of the Montana Preservation Alliance; Dwane Kailey, Missoula District Administrator of the Montana Department of Transportation; Kierstin Schmitt of the Bitterroot Good Neighbors; Tom McNab of the Community Design Center School of Architecture at UM; Chris Overdorf of Jones and Jones Architects & Landscape Architects; Keith Smith, Public Works Director of the City of Hamilton; Kristin Smith, a Land Use Planner with WGM Group; as well as Dave Shultz and Kristine Komar of BRCHT.

The public is invited to attend and help envision a Bitterroot Parkway, that is, a new and improved Highway 93 through the Bitterroot as part of phase II of the county’s zoning efforts.

“Almost everyone in the Bitterroot agrees we need to do something to steward this important community asset,” said Komar. She welcomes civic groups, businesses, conservation groups, and commissioner candidates, as well as the general public, to attend Friday’s meeting where some initial plans will be reviewed and developed.

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