A look at the proposed RiverView Apartment plans during the Big Sky County Water and Sewer District No. 363 meeting on Tuesday MAP COURTESY BSCHT

One step closer

Big Sky Water and Sewer District votes to move forward with annexation of RiverView Apartments affordable housing project project

The RiverView Apartments project cleared a big hurdle on Tuesday. The potential affordable housing project on the old American Bank property was voted to be annexed into the water and sewer district. The Big Sky County Water and Sewer District No. 363 held a meeting on Tuesday, July 20 with the main purpose of discussing the potential annexation into the district.

In early June, The Big Sky Community Housing Trust (BSCHT) requested $6,491,250 in Low Income Housing Tax Credits to build a mix of one, two and three-bedroom units. If awarded, these tax credits will be funneled into the RiverView Apartments project. RiverView Apartments is a collaboration between Lone Mountain Land Company, Resort Tax, Big Sky Water & Sewer, and Big Sky Community Housing Trust to develop rental units at 1700 Lone Mountain Trail, according to a BSCHT newsletter. According to Montana.gov, the awarded tax credits will be determined on Oct 18, 2021. Before the BSCHT could move forward with their pitch for the needed tax credits the property needed to be annexed into The Big Sky County Water and Sewer District No. 363. “We can’t move forward with the county and this project until we are approved for annexation,” Laura Seyfang, BSCHT program director said.

On July 15, The BSCHT put out a survey to gauge the community’s support on the RiverView Apartments project and the annexation in the water and sewer district. The results from the survey were discussed in the beginning of the meeting on Tuesday. The community feedback was beneficial to the BSCHT’s efforts as it showed strong support for both the RiverView Apartments project and the annexation.

After a significant discussion, the motion to move forward with the annexation of the RiverView affordable housing project passed with a three to two vote, with one board member abstaining.

Although the motion passed on Tuesday, there were still significant concerns about the annexation from the board throughout this meeting. The most prominent of which was promising enough water capacity so far in advance. The Riverview housing project will require 25 Single Family Equivalents (SFE’s) a month once operational. As of now, the Water and Sewer District would have that amount available for this project. However the board was concerned about promising that excess capacity in the future when they don’t know what the future brings. Certain board members such as BSCWSD Treasurer/Secretary Richard Fast were concerned that the annexation would be a disservice to the current residents of the district, “We have to remember that we have others in the district that we already serve, and they come first,” Fast said.

Another significant concern of the board was how potential traffic would be affected. Seyfang then attempted to put the board’s concerns at ease by stating that 78% of workers in Big Sky commute to work through the canyon via Highway 191. The Riverview project would significantly cut into this number which would have a positive effect on Highway 191 traffic. “We think this will actually lessen traffic,” Seyfang said.

The board was concerned also with yet another turnout on Montana Highway 64 or Lone Mountain Trail with no proper turn lane. There are currently no plans to solve this problem as the potential turn lanes are not included in the proposed TIGER Grant road construction project. Seyfang said that this would be a significant focus for the Housing Trust going forward, however she could not yet give a direct answer of how the problem would be solved.

Both parties will continue to move forward with this process going into next month. The Big Sky Water and Sewer District will meet in early August to further discussions with the BSCHT and iron out the annexation. The BSCHT will prepare for their presentation with the Montana Board of Housing in September to try to obtain the necessary tax credits to move forward with the RiverView Apartments project.

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Lone Peak Lookout

Cori Koenig, editor: editor@lonepeaklookout.com
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