Additional workforce housing on the horizon

Big Sky Community Housing Trust and Lone Mountain Land Company team up

At least an additional 90 rental units for Big Sky’s workforce may soon exist on Highway 64. Details are being hashed out between the nonprofit Big Sky Community Housing Trust (BSCHT) and Lone Mountain Land Company (LMLC) for a rental development that will also include dorm style units.

BSCHT Program Director Laura Seyfang and LMLC Vice President of Development Bayard Dominick both addressed the Big Sky County Water and Sewer District No. 363 (BSCWSD) board at the recent meeting, presenting what they believe can be a big win for the community.

The board opted to write a letter of support for the development to Gallatin County Planning and Zoning, hoping to get the ball rolling between the county and developers.

The units will be on the site that formerly housed American Bank – LMLC recently closed on the property – as well as an adjacent lot. Though currently on BSCWSD water, it would need to be annexed into the district, something the board resisted doing last year, when the request was not tied to workforce housing. Per the 1% for infrastructure agreement with Big Sky Resort Area District (Resort Tax), 500 SFEs have been earmarked for workforce housing with the new Water Resource Recovery Facility expansion/upgrade. This development would take approximately 100 of those SFEs.

Dominick explained the formal application will come soon, but the goal of the presentation was to share ideas and understand what needs to be done to secure annexation into the district and the allocation of SFEs.

Board President Tom Reeves outlined the next steps for the board: Ask BSCWSD legal representation to draft a positive letter on the discussion so far “if that helps serve the purpose for this project moving forward, see the details of this project next month, and then we probably need a subcommittee with Resort Tax board members to make sure we are in alignment with the 1%” and how the 500 workforce housing SFEs are defined.

The workforce development cost could be cushioned by Low Income Housing Tax Credit – federal funds that flow through the state, a form of financing that has never been used in Big Sky. If those funds are secured, some of the units in the development will then be rent controlled.

Board member Brian Wheeler pointed out the project is expected to be a comingling of the private and public sectors. He explained that there needs to be clarity in how the project is represented.

“There is a bit of comingling – and it may be for the greater good,” he said.

Seyfang said the project will add “desperately needed housing for the workforce in our area.”

“As a non-profit, partnerships like this allow us to move forward with our mission of creating secure housing for the people who support this community through their employment,” she said, according to a press release.

Board members discussed how they are elected officials and “the public has a say in it.” Reeves said they would like public comment. The next board meeting is Feb. 16 at 8 a.m.

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