Quiet Meadows Village Estates gets over first hurdle

By: 
KATHLEEN GILLULY
Outlook managing editor

Three members of Laurel’s planning board voted for the preliminary annexation and zone change for the Nutting Bros. 3rd Filling lots 19-25, to allow a private manufactured home park in east Laurel after a public hearing on the request last Thursday.
Ron Benner and Hazel Klein abstained from voting and removed themselves from the discussion, presumably because they have conflicts of interest. During the May discussion of the development, Klein, a realtor, participated, but did not vote.
Although developers interested in purchasing the land—about 30 acres north of Eleanor Roosevelt Dr. and west of Yard Office Rd.—to build a manufactured housing park had a new web-based presentation detailing their plans, many residents of nearby neighborhoods still weren’t convinced the development is appropriate for the area. The park was rejected last spring by both the Laurel City County Planning Board and the Yellowstone County Commissioners.
Seven opponents spoke against approval of the development at hearing. The one person speaking as a proponent, Larry Larson, is an agent for the buyer, he said.
“We are trying to build an example,” Larson said. “We want this to be the best of the best so we can take this model elsewhere.”
One of the developers’ main selling point seemed to be that the new park wouldn’t be like Alder Ridge Estates, which has some private ownership of lots while others are sublet or owned by the Oakland Company.
Nick Pancheau of Collaborative Design Architects presented a video simulation of how the developers envision the park. It can be viewed at quietmeadowvillage.com.
The park would be owned and managed by the developers, according to an email from Scott Aspenlieder, another member of the development team. He also addressed some of the concerns brought up at the hearing.
The park as presented would have only two exit/entrances, one on Eleanor Roosevelt Dr. and the other off Yard Office Rd. Neither street is equipped for pedestrian traffic. Eleanor Roosevelt Dr. lacks sidewalks for children to utilize to walk to school and Yard Office Rd., is a busy thoroughfare. It doesn’t have sidewalks either and the speed limit on the road is 50 miles per hour.
According to Aspenlieder, having just the two entrances was done to help control traffic speeds and mitigate impact to the streets. He noted that the subdivision application process includes a traffic impact study.
“The Traffic Impact Study will identify any impacts traffic generated from the development would have … and in turn identify any mitigation required for the developer to provide to accommodate the generated traffic,” Aspenlieder wrote. His concluding remarks on traffic were, “Either way the city is not responsible for the improvements adjacent to the property.”
How the development will affect Laurel Public Schools has not yet been explored and there are questions remaining about a ditch that runs along the northern side of the property where a path is proposed to make it easier for children to access school.
“It’s important to keep in mind that annexation and zoning are only the first step in the process and a necessary approval for any developer to have before any further investment is made,” Aspenlieder wrote. “A lot of the concerns can and will be addressed in detail as part of the subdivision process but we need to be able to get there to do that and answer those questions.”
The Laurel City Council will have a public hearing on the development on Jan. 3, 2017. The issue will be discussed by the council during a Dec. 27, workshop meeting.

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