Friday, May 29, 2009

County approves Cove Springs

Developers to start roads this summer


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

Developers of the 4,635-acre Cove Ranch say they're ready to get to work now that they've gotten final approval from Blaine County.

The Blaine County Commission unanimously approved Thursday a revised application for the Cove Springs development, to be located about five miles south of Bellevue on the east side of Gannett Road. The decision ends a quarrelsome process that saw the county reject the first application to develop the ranch in late 2007, which led to a protracted court battle and, ultimately, a mediated agreement between the county and the Cove Springs developers.

Not long after the commission approved the revised application, Cove Springs President Steve Beavers released a prepared statement thanking county officials and planning staff for their perseverance.

"This has been a journey," Beavers said. "We are very pleased that we received unanimous recommendation from Planning and Zoning and now have unanimous approval from the Board of Commissioners. It is now time to move forward."

The revised Cove Springs application approved by commissioners eliminates the majority of the original 300-plus lots envisioned for the portion of the ranch known as the "Cove." Under the new application, just 24 estate and equestrian lots are proposed for that portion of the ranch.

The home sites on those lots would be limited to a strict one-acre building envelope.

"I'm pleased that we've finished this," Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen said Thursday.

According to Cove Springs spokeswoman Jo Murray, the developers will begin construction of the development's network of roads up in the Cove this summer. She said the Cove Springs developers will not construct the homes on the 24 approved lots, but will sell the property to buyers who will come up with their own development plans.

Murray said the developers already have financing in place for the road construction portion of the development.

The commission's approval also covered a comprehensive plan land-use map amendment that changes the zoning designation for the northern portion of the ranch closer to Bellevue from Agricultural zone to Agricultural-Residential Transition zone. The commissioners also approved a rezone application for the northern portion of the ranch from A-20, or one home for every 20 acres, to A-5, or one home for every five acres.

Developers who purchase the rezoned lands would still have to come before the county to have their development plans for those parcels approved.

Jason Kauffman: jkauffman@mtexpress.com




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