Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) A recreational vehicle park proposed for the town of Seeley Lake will go before Missoula County commissioners this week for consideration, and a pledge to monitor nitrogen waste in groundwater for perpetuity.

The proposal, presented as a subdivision, includes 70 RV spaces south of Seeley Lake and east of Highway 200. It's the first dedicated RV park to go before the county in years.

“It's rare we talk about RV parks in Missoula County, as far as the actual creation of spaces,” said senior county planner Tim Worley. “The last one created from scratch was the former Jellystone, out by the Wye.”

Worley said the project area is included in the Seeley Lake regional plan, which recommends general commercial use. While the 15-acre lot is unzoned, the regional plan anticipates commercial-level traffic.

The project complies with the Seeley Lake regional plan, but issues over covenants have come up, Worley said.

“Some interpret within the covenants a prohibition against RV parks explicitly. Others argue that RVs are excluded from being used as a proxy, if you will, for residences,” Worley said. “Our conclusion trying to sort through this over multiple years is that commissioners aren't party to covenants, so the request is able to go forward.”

Worley added that no issues came up during review that couldn't be mitigated with conditions. That includes design elements such as the distance between RV spaces, screening from surrounding uses, circulation and access.

County officials also believe wastewater can be properly managed. Seeley has had nitrogen issues for years given the lack of a community wastewater system and the abundance of old septic tanks.

Paul Forsting with IMEG and a project representative, said the area sits in a special management area, and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality is focused on limiting further nitrogen seepage.

They believe they've arrived at a system that will work to serve the RV park and address the existing issue in Seeley Lake, according to Forsting.

“We came up with a design DEQ supports and we're very close to having it approved,” Forsting said, saying it includes extensive groundwater wells, monitoring and testing. “It's quite an elaborate requirement. But it's the only way to get a system like this approved in an area like this with the DEQ and health department having confidence that it will be fine.”