Havre Daily News
The Hill County commissioners Friday approved the subdivision of a parcel of land west of Havre - the next step in a landowner's plan to sell part of the property to Wal-Mart.
In order for landowner Ron Harmon to sell roughly 12 acres to the company, the land had to be subdivided from Harmon's 170-acre tract. The commissioners followed the Havre-Hill County Planning Board's recommendation that Harmon's subdivision plans to create four lots be approved with two conditions.
The commissioners said Harmon must include a 60-foot-wide easement along the south side of his property, parallel with U.S. Highway 2. That easement is for a frontage road the commissioners said they want constructed along the southern boundary of the 170-acre tract.
Without the road, there would not be access to Highway 2 and U.S. Highway 87 from land south of the proposed store, county planner Clay Vincent said.
Harmon said the road has always been a part of his plan for the area.
"It's my opinion at least that this plan has been followed," he said.
Harmon said he began developing the tract in the 1970s, and sold land to Kmart in the mid-1980s. He said an easement already exists on his property for water and sewer lines. A road easement would simply overlap the water and sewer easement, which cannot be built on anyway, he said.
Construction of water and sewer lines on the lot Wal-Mart wants to purchase would be paid for by the company, Harmon said.
He also agreed to the commissioners' request that he speak with Montana Department of Transportation officials about whether the turning lane on Highway 2 needs to be extended past Kmart to the Wal-Mart property next door.
The plans Wal-Mart representatives presented to the county commissioners in May included a main building about 500 feet west of Kmart. Wal-Mart's store will be oriented east-west, with its front doors facing the Kmart building.
Wal-Mart representatives have announced plans to open a 105,000-square-foot supercenter. The store would likely house a grocery center, garden shop and tire center, and may also have a gas station. A store of that size typically employs about 275 people, with 60 percent of those working full time, a company official has said.
Harmon will prepare final plans for the subdivision and submit them to the county to be signed, Commissioner Doug Kaercher said Friday.
Harmon told the commissioners he will also comply with some conditions Wal-Mart has set for the sale of the land. The company has asked that Harmon improve the parcel that he will retain after the sale, including capping a well and removing an abandoned building.
Lot 1 in the subdivision is the land Wal-Mart is interested in buying, he said. Lot 4 wraps around the back of Lot 3 and sits on both sides of it. Harmon said he is leaving room for the possibility of a residential area on Lot 4.
Since the Kmart land sold nearly 20 years ago, Harmon said, it might be many years again before he sells more land in the area.
Vincent said he's had additional inquiries about land west of town since Wal-Mart announced its plans to build.