Monday, May 27, 2024

Plans take shape for luxury golf club in Lakeside

Daily Inter Lake | May 2, 2024 3:00 PM

The developers behind a proposed luxury golf club in Lakeside hope to begin construction as soon as next summer if the permit process goes as planned.

Representatives from Arizona-based Discovery Land Company hosted an open house Wednesday at the Lakeside QRU building to discuss the project timeline with residents and take feedback on how the exclusive development would affect the community. Discovery’s portfolio includes 33 residential enclaves across the globe, including Iron Horse Golf Club in Whitefish and the Yellowstone Club near Big Sky.

Conceptual plans for the members-only club show an 18-hole golf course with 361 housing units across 1,500 acres just west of the existing Lakeside Club. The site would feature a 23,000-square-foot village area with offices, a general store and restaurants. Also planned for the village area is a fishing pond and kids club, and a sports complex featuring tennis courts, and soccer and baseball fields.

The site of the proposed development is currently owned by Flathead Valley residents Terry Leiser and Pat Leiser with TAL & PGL LLC. The swath of undulating forestland begins near U.S. 93 on the east flank and abuts Forest Service land to the west. The Lakeside airpark is on one of the northern parcels.

Discovery Land Company's Vice President of Development Jeremy Pfile said the company is aiming to have a planning application filed with Flathead County this summer, with preliminary plat approval by fall. If all goes according to schedule, the first phase of work on the main roadways and golf course could begin as soon as next year, he said.

Full buildout would take place in three phases over approximately six to seven years.

One to 3-acre lots in the development would be listed at $1.5 million to $3.5 million. Pfile said the company would begin marketing the project following the preliminary plat approval.

The main entrance would be from a gravel road on the west side of U.S. 93 that is currently used to access Legacy Bike Park. A secondary emergency access would be through the Lakeside Club. The development would be gated, and only members who own lots would have access to the amenities.

The airstrip would be removed to accommodate the development.

Pfile said the resort would mostly be a summer destination for its residents, with access to Flathead Lake being the main attraction. He said Discovery is currently assessing potential lake access points for its members. 

“We’re looking for solutions,” he said.

He said that while other Discovery developments offer skiing access to members — such as the Yellowstone Club near Big Sky — Blacktail Mountain Ski Area would not be a part of the Lakeside resort or its offerings.

During peak summer season, the resort would employ approximately 150 workers. A full economic impact report will soon be revealed and Pfile touted that previous Discovery developments have shown that the fiscal benefits for surrounding communities "far outweigh" the impacts.

For example, he said that the local Somers Lakeside School District would see a significant influx of funding from property taxes, while the school likely wouldn't see any increases in enrollment, given the seasonal nature of the resort.

WEDNESDAY’S OPEN house drew a steady stream of locals who quizzed the Discovery representatives on the development plan. The Leisers were also on hand to talk about the project.

Some residents offered support for the development, while others raised concerns about potential traffic increases, wildfire safety and the impacts on local infrastructure.

"It's still a very preliminary plan and there's an opportunity to tweak it based on feedback," Pfile said.

Traffic and access rose to the top as the most widely shared concerns he heard from locals at the open house.

"For a project of this size, it's always about access," he said.

Pfile said a traffic impact study was recently completed and will be shared with the Montana Department of Transportation. 

Janie Lewer with the Upper West Shore Alliance questioned Pfile about the ingress and egress plans, and pressed the company to look at alternative routes around Lakeside, offering a Bonneville Power Administration easement on the west flank of the property as one potential option.

On infrastructure, Pfile said the company has had several meetings with the Lakeside County Water and Sewer District about its ability to take on the development's wastewater needs. 

According to Pfile, the district could handle the initial phase at its current capacity. Any additional phases would have to wait until the district implements its planned capacity upgrades.

Lakeside County Water and Sewer District General Manager Rodney Olson confirmed that Discovery officials have had discussions with the district about a service agreement.

"We still haven't nailed down what that phase looks like," he said.

He noted that the district has served Lakeside Club since 2006 and that sewer infrastructure is already in place. Initial plans for Lakeside Club, formerly Eagle’s Crest, was planned to include more than 900 units as well as a golf course. 

Still, Olson said that if an agreement is approved, Discovery would need to bolster lift stations and other infrastructure.

Pfile said the plan is to run service lines along U.S. 93. He also said the company is looking to extend natural gas service to the development.

On wildfire safety, Pfile noted that other Discovery developments are equipped with their own firefighting stations. He said that's one idea the company would look at for their Lakeside proposal.

Local resident Ali Anderson shared her concerns with Pfile about pedestrian safety along U.S. 93 and children crossing the busy highway. She asked Pfile why Lakeside residents and families should support and advocate for the development.

"What's the win?" she asked.

Pfile responded that Discovery could possibly help add sidewalks or crosswalks in Lakeside, as well as upgrading other infrastructure.

He said the open house was an initial opportunity to learn about how the company can assist Lakeside, "and help incorporate these ideas into the community."