Monday, October 15

Developing Rock Creek

Jen and I spent last weekend camping in the Rock Creek canyon. Rock creek is known as a "blue-ribbon" fly-fishing destination, and for the last few years residents have been engaged in battles to keep the sprawl emanating from nearby Missoula at bay.

An out-of-state (big stigma around here) developer bought a ranch a few years back, and attempted to subdivide it into a low-density neighborhood. The residents of the canyon beefed up the Rock Creek Protective Association and sought to legally prevent the development from happening. The trouble is that zoning really shouldn't be done retroactively.

The Missoulian set up the two positions of the debate like this:

"Residents all over western Montana are facing just what Rock Creek residents did - a subdivision they don't like, a developer who doesn't care, a design that doesn't fit their neighborhood and that threatens the wildlife and environment they love, Menson [president of RCPA] said.

Developers are facing what Barnes did - buying land in good faith, following laws and land-use patterns, then facing the veto power of neighbors who want to protect what they have at the expense of someone else, McCormick [lawyer for the developer] said."

Now there is a newer development, the Ridge above Rock Creek, that is being constructed here. It is being advertised as providing the "true Western Montana Lifestyle." Perusing the website reminds me of the line that Jim Kunstler repeats often, that the suburbs promise a country lifestyle but really give a cartoon of the country lifestyle.


J.W. said...

The venom practically drips from the pages of Geography of Nowhere, where Kunstler rages that suburbs are neither rural nor urban but a combination of the worst attributes of both. Maybe I wouldn't go quite that far, but there is something deadening about the suburban existence.

J.W. said...

And I'm sad to hear about Rock Creek. I honestly hope the residents are able to keep the developer at bay.

Daniel Nairn said...

There is still a large amount of the canyon that has kept its rural feel. Montana, in general, does have plenty of open areas left, but many people look to other similar places (Boulder, CO comes up often) and wonder whether we are headed down that road.

It's easier to manage growth proactively than wait until it's already there.