Havre Daily News
After years of legal wrangling over financing, Quantum Five LLC has resumed excavation on the Havre Golf Course and Country Club east of Havre where it broke ground more than nine years ago.
In recent weeks, heavy equipment again shaved weeds from and contoured the 250 or so acres comprising the tract, some surveyor's stakes have gone up and excavation has begun anew on a nine-acre pond intended as a golf hazard and for irrigation.
Ted Morris, a former Havre resident and one of six owners of Quantum Five LLC, said he is optimistic about the project.
“The golf course, there are a lot of variables,” Morris said Thursday in a telephone interview from Port Orchard, Wash. “But it will depend on how quick we can get through the approval. We've spent a fortune to this point and we're going to keep going.”
Morris said now is a good time to build in Havre, with increases in homeland security spending and oil and gas exploration and other business expansion.
“We've done feasibility studies, and everything that's shown up has been positive,” he said. “Heck, the last few times wewere there we could hardly get a motel room.
“We're going to be over there again next week. So far, everything's been going great.”
He said he's happy the Baltrusch family is building another golf course north of the Milk River just east of Havre.
“Competition is good,” Morris said. “We have a whole different plan than they have. They're a golf course. We're by the highway and we have a subdivision planned.”
There is still a question of how soon the real work can begin on the golf course and subdivision.
“We have to finish the preliminary stuff,” Morris said. “Our plats were approved by the state and now we have to go to the city.”
According to local officials, Quantum Five will have to go through the entire process it began in 1996 because it failed to get the Montana Department of Environment Quality's final approval within a three-year time limit from submission of its original application.
“They have to have public hearings on how they want to set it up,” Hill County planner Clay Vincent said, “and then they have another three years to comply.”
In the meantime, he said, “They can move dirt around all they want.”
One thing Quantum accomplished when it first promoted the project in Havre was to convince the Havre City Council to annex the property, which it did on July 21, 1997. The temporary plat was approved, but no final plat was submitted, Havre public works director Dave Peterson said.
The council's conditional approval of Quantum Five's preliminary plat was valid for only three years, the council's resolution says. That approval, required by state law, would have expired on May 6, 2000. But Jay Springer of Milk River Engineering said the project did get a couple of extensions from DEQ before it finally lapsed.
Springer, who did some work for Quantum years ago, said the cost estimate for required infrastructure like sewer and water lines and streets was $6 million when the project got preliminary approval and would probably run to $10 million today. He added that the original preliminary plat would have to be updated to reflect more stringent restrictions added to state regulations in the intervening years. He estimated that it would take two years to get final approval from the city and state for the project.
The City Council resolution also said Quantum could tap into the aquifer under the property for which the city holds reserved water rights. The water was to be used for residential and commercial use, to fill ponds on the course and for irrigating the golf course. The city's approval was contingent on receiving 200 acre-feet of water from the wells located in the subdivision that “utilize the City's reserved water rights,” the resolution said.
Vincent said that could be a sticking point this time around.
“The city doesn't have a good supply of water,” he said. “The city may want to relook at that.”
Quantum also would have had to donate cash and land equivalent to 4.53 acres for a city park. That requirement was also voided by the three-year time limit stipulated in the resolution.
In 1996 and 1997, Quantum attempted and failed in its search for a public entity to issue tax-free municipal bonds on its behalf.
Quantum Five's efforts to get the project off the ground were further waylaid when the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon filed a foreclosure suit against Quantum in September 1999 for default of a $900,000 loan. In his ruling in favor of the tribes on May 13, 2002, state District Judge John Warner said Quantum must pay $685,254 or have the property disposed of at a sheriff's sale with the proceeds going to the tribes. The Montana Supreme Court upheld his ruling on June 7, 2004.
Morris said that situation has been resolved.
According to Hill County documents, Quantum Group of Seattle transferred the property to Quantum Five LLC of Seattle on Jan. 21, 2004.
While actual construction isn't in the immediate future, people may have a chance to see what may be built there.
“We're going to set up some model homes so people can see what it will look like,” Morris said.
Morris added that the financial picture looks good. Only two members of the group remain from nine years ago - Morris and a Seattle attorney. The other four are younger professionals familiar with projects similar to the one here, he said. He would not identify them.
“I've got some partners with me that are very strong and we're committed to go ahead,” Morris said. “I'm not as active, because of my health, I'm 72, so I'm just bringing the guys up to date with what we did before.”