HAMILTON - The owners of the Bitter Root Stock Farm have petitioned Hamilton for the annexation of 290 acres of land.
The proposed annexation covers the southern end of the Stock Farm's 650-acre parcel and is bounded roughly by Fairground Road, Old Corvallis Road and the Eastside Highway. All the proposed annexation lies south of the Daly Mansion.
Landowners stressed this week that there are no development proposals for the land. However, said Peter Van Tuyn, the son-in-law of landowner Francis Bessenyey, the land lies in the likely path of Hamilton's future residential development and annexing the land into the city now would promote measured, thoughtful growth.
"When we get annexed into the city, we get city water and sewer, but we also get more clear rules about development," Van Tuyn said. "We thought there is a real benefit to doing it this way."
The Marcus Daly estate once stretched into the Sapphire Mountains, but has been whittled down over the years to the Stock Farm's 650 acres.
Should the property be annexed and a development proposed, it would go through the city's subdivision process. Any development would tie into the city's wastewater treatment plant through the lift station recently completed on Old Corvallis Road.
Currently the 290-acre parcel is used in hay production and cattle grazing and that will continue. Not included in the petition for annexation is a 20-acre artificial lake built using horse-drawn dredges. Also exempt from the petition is the Daly Mansion, which is owned by the University of Montana and the state.
"In the long run, we see that part of this ranch as being developed in one way or another," Van Tuyn said.
"We believe this is appropriate given the fact that this portion of the ranch is so closely tied to the city," he said. "We believe that when Hamilton grows this is the logical direction in which that growth would occur and annexation ensures that it would be done in an orderly manner with clear rules."
Such practices, he said, were clearly supported by Daly himself.
"Marcus Daly, founder of both the ranch and the city of Hamilton, clearly knew the benefits of planning ahead, and this effort follows in that tradition," Bessenyey said.
Van Tuyn said the family has not ruled out a conservation easement to protect a portion of the north end of the property, and that the family has a keen interest in preserving views from the mansion.
"There is a time when the market will be right for development," Van Tuyn said.
Hamilton City Councilwoman Nancy Hendrickson said she would support this annexation because it made sense for the city.
"We have things next to town that need to be our priorities," she said. "For this, the sewer line is already there."
Dennis Stranger, the director of the city's Office of Community Development, said he was unsure what process would be followed for handling the annexation petition.
Ravalli Republic reporter Jeff Schmerker can be reached at 363-3300 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.