Commission to consider annexing single parcel on south side

The City Commission will conduct a public hearing on Tuesday regarding a request to annex a parcel on 21st Avenue South and assigning R-2 single family medium density zoning.

In February, the city planning board voted to recommend approval.

Last summer, the property owners met with city staff to discuss the possibility of annexing into the city to have access to city water and sewer. The applicants have proposed building a single family home and garage on the parcel for their own personal use and have already received a construction permit from the county.

The Little Store opening in former Eden Market building

Although the lot is larger than normal, the R-2 zoning was selected because it is the same zoning designation for properties located directly to the south, north and west of the annexation area. Any future building construction or building additions will be governed under the standards of the R-2 zoning district, according to city staff.

The property is in the Upper and Lower River Road Water and Sewer District where city water and sewer services have been installed and over the years, unincorporated parcels have been gradually annexed.

Lower River Road closes next week for improvements

The parcel being considered for annexation is within Service District 5. So far, districts 1-4 have been annexed into the city.

The remainder of District 5 will be annexed at an undetermined date. To annex the entire district, at least 50 percent of the property owners within the district have to sign an annexation petition. That threshold hasn’t been met in District 5 so the city is moving forward with the property owner who has requested annexation.

Water, sewer and sanitation services are currently provided by the city to the adjacent properties.

If the annexation is approved, new water and sewer service lines will be installed to the annexed property. The cost of those improvements will be the responsibility of the property owner and terms are outlined in the improvement agreement.

There are some gravel roads remaining in the area. In February, Planning Director Craig Raymond told the planning board that as other projects develop in the area, more roads are being paved in the area, creating better connectivity.

District 4, which included 16.6. acres and 57 parcels, was annexed in 2011 and District 3, which included about 37 acres and 38 parcels, was annexed in 2010.

In 1996, the Cascade County City-County Health Department and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality began an 18-month groundwater pollution study in the Upper and Lower River Road and Donovan Park areas.

According to city documents, the area is occupied by about 3,000 residents and is the largest area in Cascade County with this type of density having neither a public water nor sewage system.

The study didn’t find any imminent hazards, but “it was determined that impacts to the area groundwater were being caused from individual sewage septic systems and two aging sewage lagoons serving the Pearson Addition and the Trailer Terrace Mobile Home Court in the Donovan Park area,” according to a 2011 city staff report.

The study recommended that area residents avoid potential problems by developing an official sewer and water district so they would be eligible for state and federal grants for the planning and construction of public water and sewer systems for the area.

The district would also have contracting authority for any possible interlocal agreements with the city for connection to city water and sewer lines that were already present in part of the study area.

The study was broken into two separate geographic areas, Upper/Lower River Road and Donovan Park. According to city documents, problems were noted in both areas, but the worst problems were in the northern portion of the study area along Upper/Lower River Road.

In 2001, property owners along Upper and Lower River roads voted to create a water and sewer district and elected a five-member board of directors to address the water and sewer issues.

In 2003, the district and the city entered into a memorandum of understanding noting that the most cost-effective way to provide water and sewer to the district was to connect to the city systems, which required annexation.

Also in 2003, voters in the district defeated a $5.7 million bond to pay for the extension of city services to the district.

To reduce the per household cost of the project, the district was divided into smaller service areas and according to city records:

  • Service District 1 was annexed in 2007;
  • Service District 2 was annexed in 2009;
  • Service District 3 was annexed in 2010;
  • Service District 4 was annexed in 2011.