Friday, July 12, 2013

Legacy Ranch Subdivision Update 2

"Growth for the sake of growth is the philosophy of a cancer cell."     Ed Abbey

How would it be for you if you went to a wealthy oncologist to deal with a potentially-fatal tumor and were told in clipped, obscenely-expensive words, that "growth is inevitable" and that "you can't stop progress"?  

Below is a synopsis of what happens when you strain a recycled teabag into a cup of that curdled milk. A hackneyed bromide, in other words, served in a silver, publicly-funded cup, offered up by Legacy developer Alexandra Morton and the surprisingly well-paid commissioners to the taxpaying serfs of Ravalli County, Montana. 

For those of you not from the Bitterroot, Legacy Ranch subdivision may seem minor and almost trite, given that cynical developers like the Mortons and condescending commissioners like ours have gotten away with this sort of rape and pillage all over the country for many decades. Indeed, we in the Bitterroot can't claim pristine privilege either. We've had carcinogenic government colluding with sociopathic developers before. But we’ve only recently had huge premeditated land-use tumors going for our lymph nodes, and so we’re not quite so ready as the Mortons and the local teabaggers which comprise our current county government would like us to be in accepting the their silver cup of crap.

“Change is inevitable.” Indeed. But who defines “change”? The few silver-tongued pillagers who make a living off of our collective degradation? Yes, degradation equals “change”. But so does putting up your dukes and fightin’ the bastards.

Beware the hackneyed bromide that serves to engorge the already-rich  at everyone else’s expense. We’ve still got something worth fightin’ for, and we’re gonna.

The Letter

Citizens of Ravalli County, you have been dismissed.

Last week, despite overwhelming and substantive opposition from the public to the  thirty-year construction zone in a formerly-rural corner of our valley adjacent to the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, the Ravalli County Commissioners unanimously approved Legacy Ranch Subdivision.

That’s right. A handful of Ravalli County Republican Central Committee (RCC) operatives—including RCC chair and Planning Office Manager Terry Nelson, RCC precinct captain and Legacy developer Alexandra Morton, and of course the five RCC commissioners who owe their catbird seats to the likes of Nelson, Morton and other developer interests in this valley—not only unanimously approved this inappropriate monstrosity, they unanimously ignored your public comments and concerns one by one, point by point. In fact they hired an extra lawyer, on top of the SIX the county already retains, to do this work for them.

This seventh lawyer repeatedly advised the commissioners to “capture” the multitude and valid concerns you raised, and then dismiss them, one by one, by claiming that all the horrible results that will inevitably follow such a poor land-use decision will be “mitigated” by private, unenforceable covenants and “notices”.  As stated above, each and every one of these cynical condescensions to our democratic process and your concerns was “concurred with” unanimously. There was no debate between the commissioners—and certainly none between the developer and Nelson’s Planning Office--about whether or not the developer has a right to claim that unenforceable “covenants” and “notices” can count as mitigation for such an alien creature as Legacy, or even about the propriety of dismissing citizens’ heartfelt concerns so offhandedly. Remember: public comment was done. The public was not allowed to talk during these final proceedings. In other words, only the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee operatives (the developers, the commissioners, the planning staff) had a place at this table. Not a one of them was disagreeing with the proposal, let alone advocating for anybody except the developer. A more incredible example of abnegation of public responsibility would be hard to find, although this commission has come up with some doozies in that regard ever since the extremist commission took over county government in 2010.

Consider: THIRTY YEARS of construction on that little piece of rural property. In one fell swoop, the Republican Central Committee, euphemistically known as your county government, has declared that you and your children, and even your children’s children have as much right to peace and quiet as any city-dweller.  In other words, if you can’t afford a castle and a spread the size of the Morton’s estate up against the mountains west of Victor--complete with government firefighters ready to protect that castle in the event of inevitable forest fires--then you and yours don’t deserve any peace at all, ever again.

Contrary to news reports, the commissioners did not “ban” woodstoves. Just like so many other blow-offs of the public’s sincere concerns, the commissioners merely requested that a restriction on woodstoves be placed in the notices and covenants. Now ask yourself: who is going to enforce all these “mitigations” and which commissioners are going to do anything about it if they don’t get enforced? Are you aware of ANY  homeowner’s association that isn’t dysfunctional in this valley? Remember the homeowner’s association dispute that ended in a shooting up Little Sleeping Child recently? Is that really the kind of government these commissioners think works best? Put bluntly, homeowner association “covenants and notices” are not restrictions or legal “mitigations” at all. Eventually, and probably soon after “phase one” begins, they will all be ignored, and we who are already here, whose lives will certainly be degraded by this renegade decision, will pick up the tab, while the commissioners’ political benefactors—the developers—whistle to the bank.

The decision to allow Legacy Construction zone into your rural backyard is bad enough. But when you consider the screaming conflict-of-interests issues between the developer and the commissioners, between the “planning board” and the Republican Central Committee, I think most reasonable, agenda-free folks on either side of the political divide will agree that this debacle is not only not the Good Government we expect from our paid help, it’ not anything close to our cherished democratic process, and is therefore un-American.

This is the price You The Taxpayers are paying for the Republican Central Committee’s (euphemistically known as your county government’s) extreme ideological purity.

How’s that feel, folks?


  1. I recently moved to the valley [out of the city] just to get away from crap like this development. I went to several of these public meeting and could not help but standup and speak out against this, as did 150-200 others. Also sent letters to planing board, as well as, commissioners begging them to stop this development. Obviously I have no affect on this stupidity. So who can, and how can the rest of us help them?

    1. There'll be a "donate" button on the BFP website today. I think litigation is the only voice we have left in the official realm. Active public opposition is still the time-tested best voice. Be creative and non-violent. But be adamant. Little bit, these days, goes a long ways.