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Missoula County appoints attorney to oversee sale of failed subdivision parcel

The site of a failed subdivision near the base of Grant Creek has seen renewed interest by both prospective developers and conservationists, prompting Missoula County to appoint an outside attorney to oversee the property’s appraisal and eventual sale.

On Tuesday, county officials said Elizabeth Erickson of Worden Thane will provide legal advice related to the publicly owned parcel.

“She will provide the county with advice and representation related to county-owned property in the Grant Creek area,” said Erica Grinde, the county’s risk manager. “She has general real estate law background that will help move this forward in whatever direction it goes.”

Trouble in the Gleneagle Subdivision, located in lower Grant Creek, 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 67 lots to roughly 25 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. Last year, the county issued around $1.26 million in general obligation bonds to cover the lawsuits.

The county still owns the property and Grinde said interest in the parcel is on the rise.

“There has been some outside interest in the potential for conservation easements on that property, and or development interest,” Grinde said. “There are no offers on the table. This is getting (Erickson) engaged and being able to get any contractors she thinks would be prudent for any appraisals on that property.”

Missoula County to issue general obligation bonds to cover subdivision lawsuit