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By Andi Bourne

Gravel Pit Access Through Evergreen Drive Approved with Conditions


February 1, 2018

DEER LODGE – The Powell County Planning Board voted unanimously to amend the restriction in the Conditional Use Permit for Deer Creek Excavating, LLC to use Evergreen Drive as a haul route for Double Arrow Ranch projects at their meeting Jan. 11. The amendment requires Missoula County, Deer Creek Excavating and the Ranch to sign off on a road use agreement with certain criteria for the condition to be valid.

The proposed Cottonwood Gravel Pit is located approximately four miles east of Seeley Lake and would be operated by Deer Creek Excavating, LLC. In the original CUP approved for Deer Creek Excavating, LCC by Powell County in August, 2017, condition number three restricted use of Evergreen Drive stating all gravel trucks and vehicles for gravel product operations within the Double Arrow Ranch are restricted to accessing the Double Arrow Ranch development via Highway 83, south of Seeley Lake.

The Double Arrow Landowners Association Board voted 6-1 in favor of requesting Powell County to amend the restriction and allow gravel to be hauled on Evergreen Drive for projects on the Ranch. Deer Creek Excavating requested the amendment prompting the public hearing.

The condition now reads, “The primary means of ingress and egress to the gravel pit is permitted via Cottonwood Lakes Road/Morrell Creek Road.  The portion of Evergreen Drive within Powell County may be utilized as a secondary means of ingress and egress, provided the operator of the gravel pit has entered into an ingress and egress Agreement with the Double Arrow Ranch Landowners Association (DARLOA) and Missoula County to minimize adverse impacts to adjacent landowners within the Double Arrow Ranch.  If a road use agreement is established between DARLOA, Missoula County, and the gravel pit operator, documentation of the agreement shall be provided to the Powell County Planning Department.  Ingress and egress through the Double Arrow Ranch to Highway 83 is not permitted.”

Powell County Planner Carl Hamming said his understanding is Evergreen Drive and most of the roads within the Ranch are public access routes but the county does not maintain them. Instead the landowners association takes care of the road maintenance using the landowner fees.

“I think the planning board did their due diligence,” said Hamming. “I think they really wanted to find the best compromise to let Deer Creek Excavating run a successful business but minimize and mitigate the potential adverse impacts to the residential neighbors as much as possible.”

Hamming said that the amendment outlines criteria that must be met by Missoula County, DARLOA and Deer Creek Excavating for the condition to be valid.

“Without being able to get that road share agreement in place, then they would still be limited to hauling only along Cottonwood Lakes Road,” said Hamming.

Hamming added, “I really appreciate all the work and effort people of all opinions have put into this decision. I hope that people have respected the time and effort the Planning Board has also put into it.”

No further hearings are scheduled regarding the CUP with Powell County. The Opencut Mining Permit application of the proposed Cottonwood Pit is currently under extended review with the Department of Environmental Quality. A decision by DEQ will be issued by Feb. 10.


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