Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Missoula County on Tuesday approved an agreement with two limited liability companies to exchange land in a failed subdivision near the base of Grant Creek.

The agreement between the county, MTAK Landholdings and SEV Enterprises, brings the saga of the Gleneagle Subdivision one step closer to final resolution – a process now years in the making.

Elizabeth Erickson, an attorney representing the county, said the per-acre value of land under the agreement is equal.

“MTAK and SEV appraised the property and the county ordered a second appraisal,” Erickson said. “They both indiciated that the per-acre value are equivalent in acreage. The county will receive slightly more acreage in this exchange. It means the county will receive slightly more value.”

Trouble in the Gleneagle Subdivision began in the late 1970s and spiraled downhill from there. The county received the lots through a tax deed in 1989 and proceeded to plan a new project.

In doing so, the county reduced the number of lots and re-deeded them in an agreement reached with two developers in 1999. But the subdivision never broke ground and no infrastructure was ever laid, leaving the buyers empty handed.

In Missoula County District Court, the buyers alleged that the county violated the Montana Subdivision and Platting Act by failing to require a plat and infrastructure bond when it reconfigured the lots in 1999.

Retired District Judge Ed McLean issued an order in 2016, awarding partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs. The county in 2020 issued $1.2 million in general obligation bonds to cover the lawsuits.

Under the agreement struck on Tuesday, the county will now receive a large piece of common area within the project that lies adjacent to other county land. MTAK and SEV will receive a number of county lots.

The agreement also calls for a trail corridor, connecting portions of the property with nearby conservation lands.

“The eventual goal would be to connect the trail,” said Erickson. “Another portion of the exchange, if the plat for Gleneagle is every vacated or abandoned, that the county would assure that MTAK and SEV have access to their proerty.”

Erickson said a number of other steps will likely follow, includign a possible boundary-line relocation for the county’s property, ensuring future road easements, and recording the trail easement.

Dave Cotner, an attorney representing the two LLCs, said the county was cooperative in the process.

“These are two particular landowners that created LLCs that became concerned when the development began in Gleneagle,” said Cotner. “They have plans with respect to making certain that the development approved by Missoula County doesn’t happen. It works out well for my clients and works out well for Missoula County.”

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