Major Sheridan subdivision in pre-application process

If approved, 50 residential lots would be developed

A proposed major subdivision in Sheridan has raised concerns from residents over water and sewer capacity but has garnered support from the Town of Sheridan who seeks to add more housing options to the community. The landowner, Three Rivers Development, is proposing to divide an 18.5-acre plot of land on the western end of town into 50 residential lots, ranging from 5,000 to 13,000-square feet, with two four-plex lots, eight duplex lots, and 40 single family homesites. Water and sewer services would be provided by the town.

In the pre-application for the development, The Crossings Subdivision, it was stated that Three Rivers Development’s goal is to provide affordable housing in a walkable neighborhood. The project was discussed at a Sept. 24, 2021 at a Madison County Housing Advisory Board meeting where developer Rick Remitz said he hoped to work with the Sheridan Town Council to alleviate housing shortage, noting that, “folks with money have driven the land prices up, and there are people who want to live here, increasing the need for housing.” Steve Dobb, an adjacent landowner to the proposed subdivision, said it’s not that he’s against growth, but he and his neighbors are against the town taking on a project that might require more water than Sheridan’s wells and sewage system can handle.

“The townspeople of Sheridan are going to end up paying for this big subdivision,” said Dobb. “We already have some of the highest sewer and water rates in the country, our taxes here are high, and the average age of the people in Sheridan is 57, so most people are on fixed incomes. $120, $130 sewer and water bills are a bit extravagant.”

Sheridan water restrictions instated in the summer of 2021 also left Dobb and his neighbors questioning just how much H2O is truly available.

In a supplemental document for the pre-application, Lewis Burton, Senior Engineer for WWC Engineering, stated that “The Town has the collection, treatment, and supply capacity to accommodate the proposed subdivision.”

Dobb questioned that finding, given the same engineer that compiled it is also working for The Crossings project. When Dobb and other residents requested the town use of a different engineering firm, the request was denied, stating there was no conflict of interest.

While some residents question the adequate water supply finding, Sheridan Mayor Bob Stump agrees that the town can handle the major addition which, with full occupancy, could increase the rural community’s population by 20 to 25%.

According to Stump there are currently three functioning wells in Sheridan. Two are in town proper, on the western edge. Two summers ago, a new well was installed, with a three-quarter-mile pipeline to get the water to town.

The town, said Stump, is now in the first phases of looking for a new well location which would replace one of the town’s non-functioning wells (there are several).

Sheridan is limited in groundwater rights, being allowed 775 gallons per minute of groundwater right; the town, said Stump, is currently using about 450 gallons per minute max.

As for whether there’s enough water currently to support The Crossings, Stump thinks there is.

The pursuit of a new well now, he said, “is just to get ahead of the curve. I believe we have sufficient water capacity right now for this subdivision to take off.”

Stump noted that there are three other potential subdivisions being talked about, though none are in the official application stages – a lot in the southeast corner of town that would be subdivided for 12 homes and would need to be annexed, some acreage on the north side of town within town limits, and two lots on the southwest corner of town that would be perpetually leased from BNSF, with two fourplexes on each lot being discussed.

“There are no lots left in town, there’s little to nothing for sale, little or nothing as far as rentals,” said Stump, referring to the need for more housing options in Sheridan. “I personally am excited about this (The Crossings).”

Residents like Dobb may agree to some extent, but they want to ensure the costs don’t end up on their doorstep.

“I don’t think there’s a soul around here that isn’t in favor of some growth,” said Dobb, “We just want to see that it’s sustainable and that we can pay for it. And if we can’t, then we think the developers need to… people who lived here their whole life shouldn’t have to pay for someone from Bozeman coming in and building a big subdivision.”

So, what’s next? The Crossings’ pre-application planning packet will be presented to the Madison County Planning Board on Jan. 31 where the board will hear and offer feedback. County Planner Cody Marxer explained that the proposed project will not be approved or voted upon at that time, as it hasn't been formally reviewed at this stage.

“So, although comments are always welcomed at this time, they are more beneficial when the project moves to the next phase,” said Marxer, “If the developer does proceed with filing that official application for subdivision, it will include a minimum 90-day review period. This is the phase that I encourage any interested parties to offer feedback via letters or emails, as they can then be included in the review reporting.”

A representative for Three Rivers Development said it’s too early in the planning process to provide their comment on the project. 

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