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Unread 02-17-2010, 12:13 PM
 
22 posts, read 63,191 times
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Default Ponderosa Pines/Three Forks, MT

Anyone own property here? Do you live year round? Any advice?
Thanks in advance.
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Unread 02-17-2010, 01:08 PM
 
Location: Bozeman, Montana
1,181 posts, read 1,242,545 times
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Ponderosa Pines was a development scam, selling lots mostly sight-unseen. It was a ranch split up into 20 acre parcels, mostly sagebrush and rattlesnakes.
Back in about 1980 I did some research to present to the legislature on subdivisions created exempt from land use review in Gallatin County.
The County Sanitarian told me that he would get numerous phone calls asking about Ponderosa Pines, as it was marketed mostly to service people stationed in Pacific area bases, as 20 acres of Montana for their retirement investment. He said that the calls were from people who had bought their parcel without seeing it first, thinking there were trees, etc. The phrase "sagebrush and rattlesnakes" is from sanitarian, as that is what he would tell the buyer. There were no developed roads or county services when it was marketed.

Read Full text of "Ponderosa Pines Ranch, a subdivision case study"

"PONDEROSA PINES RANCH A Subdivision Case Study"

Buyer beware.
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Unread 02-17-2010, 01:18 PM
 
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Well I am already an owner and have seen it but thank you for the warning. Also, since 1973 I am sure there is much more growth on the land.
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Unread 02-17-2010, 01:30 PM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
6,141 posts, read 6,547,036 times
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I haven't been there in a couple decades, but I do follow the real estate market in the area, and I used to tramp around back there before it was built up.

Almost every house up there has been on the market at least once in the past 3-4 years. There are a few unfinished houses available at bargain prices (as the market goes nowadays). There are still quite a few vacant lots available in the upper reaches, at $20k or less -- but those lots have no power, no water, no sewer (as a general rule, septics are not allowed in broken-rock areas, as those tend to leak downhill onto neighbouring properties), and up that far it's a seasonal road (snowdrifts in the sheltered spots, and gets real muddy back there whenever it rains). My realtor dude says the main road up to the subdivision is a great place to pick up lightly-used mufflers. The covenant prohibits all business uses, including most small livestock operations. If I recall right the HOA dues are about $250/yr right now, but I don't know how accountable the money holders are. (My sister's HOA in CA lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to embezzlement.)

"Road soon to be paved" (as all the RE listings now say) is a pipe dream. At whose expense?

"30 minutes to Belgrade airport" -- assuming you can do 60mph on a twisty, bumpy back road. Well, maybe if you go up the back way to Toston, then speed down 287. Which you won't in winter (that stretch ices up pretty good).

It may be just what you want, but I strongly advise that you don't buy sight-unseen, and that you try to visit in bad weather so you get a realistic picture of what it can be like up there. If nothing else, the roads may be enough to discourage you.

BTW Happiness Is -- interesting document on its history. (Apparently a scan of an old printed document, hence the artifacts.) I wonder how many other such developments have similar backgrounds??
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Unread 02-17-2010, 01:35 PM
 
22 posts, read 63,191 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reziac View Post
I haven't been there in a couple decades, but I do follow the real estate market in the area, and I used to tramp around back there before it was built up.

Almost every house up there has been on the market at least once in the past 3-4 years. There are a few unfinished houses available at bargain prices (as the market goes nowadays). There are still quite a few vacant lots available in the upper reaches, at $20k or less -- but those lots have no power, no water, no sewer (as a general rule, septics are not allowed in broken-rock areas, as those tend to leak downhill onto neighbouring properties), and up that far it's a seasonal road (snowdrifts in the sheltered spots, and gets real muddy back there whenever it rains). My realtor dude says the main road up to the subdivision is a great place to pick up lightly-used mufflers. The covenant prohibits all business uses, including most small livestock operations. If I recall right the HOA dues are about $250/yr right now, but I don't know how accountable the money holders are. (My sister's HOA in CA lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to embezzlement.)

"Road soon to be paved" (as all the RE listings now say) is a pipe dream. At whose expense?

"30 minutes to Belgrade airport" -- assuming you can do 60mph on a twisty, bumpy back road. Well, maybe if you go up the back way to Toston, then speed down 287. Which you won't in winter (that stretch ices up pretty good).

It may be just what you want, but I strongly advise that you don't buy sight-unseen, and that you try to visit in bad weather so you get a realistic picture of what it can be like up there. If nothing else, the roads may be enough to discourage you.

BTW Happiness Is -- interesting document on its history. (Apparently a scan of an old printed document, hence the artifacts.) I wonder how many other such developments have similar backgrounds??
We did go see it before we bought it but I definitely appreciate the advice. My understanding is Belgrade would be more like an hour. Do you think that is accurate? What we wanted most was space and solitude so I think we should be happy. My understanding is most of the turnover is due to the Winter weather. What do you do if you can't put in a septic? My husband is looking at composting toilets but I still wanted septic.

Does anyone actually live out there? LOL?
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Unread 02-17-2010, 02:02 PM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
6,141 posts, read 6,547,036 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetmelissa32 View Post
We did go see it before we bought it but I definitely appreciate the advice. My understanding is Belgrade would be more like an hour. Do you think that is accurate? What we wanted most was space and solitude so I think we should be happy. My understanding is most of the turnover is due to the Winter weather. What do you do if you can't put in a septic? My husband is looking at composting toilets but I still wanted septic.

Does anyone actually live out there? LOL?
No Where exactly is your lot? you bought a vacant piece, right?

I'd call Belgrade about an hour away, yes, maybe more if you're clear up in the north end. Call it half an hour to Three Forks, which is pleasant but not really much of a town. In good weather it might be faster from the north end to go to Helena than to Bozeman, assuming you can still get across the river up by Toston (dunno, never went that far, but it's on the map), but the back roads from Toston down to the river get real bad at times so that route isn't to be counted on.

I'd guess the turnover is largely not the weather (it's in an area of relatively mild winters, as MT goes) but the road, which doubtless gets REAL old if you have to commute every day.

There are sealed cesspool units available for places that can't put in septics. You'd need to get it pumped more often but it might be more convenient than a composting toilet. I have no idea what the cost differential would be. You'd probably want to put in a grey-water system for stuff like washing machine run-off, to reduce load on the cesspool or septic, or just run it down to your veggie garden. (I lived with an outhouse and no running water for many years myself so I'm not all that deterred by roughing it -- it can be tiresome in bad weather, but as someone once put it, "It's astonishing what you can get used to.") The deer and jackrabbits will help you eat your veggies, tho they don't share well with others.

If you're up in the rocks you may find it more cost-effective to haul water, or buy it from a neighbour, than to put in a well.

Space and solitude you'd have, at least compared to town. (My own idea of "solitude" does not include subdivisions of any sort )
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Unread 02-17-2010, 05:45 PM
 
22 posts, read 63,191 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reziac View Post
No Where exactly is your lot? you bought a vacant piece, right?

I'd call Belgrade about an hour away, yes, maybe more if you're clear up in the north end. Call it half an hour to Three Forks, which is pleasant but not really much of a town. In good weather it might be faster from the north end to go to Helena than to Bozeman, assuming you can still get across the river up by Toston (dunno, never went that far, but it's on the map), but the back roads from Toston down to the river get real bad at times so that route isn't to be counted on.

I'd guess the turnover is largely not the weather (it's in an area of relatively mild winters, as MT goes) but the road, which doubtless gets REAL old if you have to commute every day.

There are sealed cesspool units available for places that can't put in septics. You'd need to get it pumped more often but it might be more convenient than a composting toilet. I have no idea what the cost differential would be. You'd probably want to put in a grey-water system for stuff like washing machine run-off, to reduce load on the cesspool or septic, or just run it down to your veggie garden. (I lived with an outhouse and no running water for many years myself so I'm not all that deterred by roughing it -- it can be tiresome in bad weather, but as someone once put it, "It's astonishing what you can get used to.") The deer and jackrabbits will help you eat your veggies, tho they don't share well with others.

If you're up in the rocks you may find it more cost-effective to haul water, or buy it from a neighbour, than to put in a well.

Space and solitude you'd have, at least compared to town. (My own idea of "solitude" does not include subdivisions of any sort )
We did buy a vacant piece on what I think is called the Eastern side. My husband is being discharged for injuries he got in Iraq so we will have payments from that so thankfully the daily commute will not be a factor. Thank you for all the road advice. I am writing it all down. We aren't planning on going until June but I am trying to be as prepared as possible. I had not heard of a cess pool but will look into that. He already had grey water and out house plans. Not much scares me. LOL. I would love to have a neighbor I could buy water from but it appears I won't have any.
I would rather it not be in a subdivision but a 20 acre lot is more space than I can dream of so I will make do.
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Unread 02-17-2010, 05:55 PM
 
Location: Bozeman, Montana
1,181 posts, read 1,242,545 times
Reputation: 603
darn... I wrote a long reply and then lost it.

That location (Ponderosa Pines) has been a thorn in the side of the county ever since it was sold off in lots. It is a completely inappropriate use of the land, but the people who bought there mostly did not know what they were getting into.

There are so many beautiful, open areas in Montana to live, I recommend that you sell that lot and locate somewhere better. Almost anywhere else would be better than that place.

Here is a recent article in the Bozeman Chronicle that explains a bit about the problems there.
Gallatin County searches for Clarkston Road solution - Daily Chronicle (http://bozemandailychronicle.com/articles/2009/10/21/news/400clarkston.txt - broken link)
--snip-- quote
"The road, which has been a contentious issue since the subdivision was created, is back on the agenda because the huge chunk of the county road budget it gobbles up every year is no longer sustainable."

Please read the full article.
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Unread 02-17-2010, 06:00 PM
 
22 posts, read 63,191 times
Reputation: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by happiness is View Post
darn... I wrote a long reply and then lost it.

That location (Ponderosa Pines) has been a thorn in the side of the county ever since it was sold off in lots. It is a completely inappropriate use of the land, but the people who bought there mostly did not know what they were getting into.

There are so many beautiful, open areas in Montana to live, I recommend that you sell that lot and locate somewhere better. Almost anywhere else would be better than that place.

Here is a recent article in the Bozeman Chronicle that explains a bit about the problems there.
Gallatin County searches for Clarkston Road solution - Daily Chronicle (http://bozemandailychronicle.com/articles/2009/10/21/news/400clarkston.txt - broken link)
--snip-- quote
"The road, which has been a contentious issue since the subdivision was created, is back on the agenda because the huge chunk of the county road budget it gobbles up every year is no longer sustainable."

Please read the full article.
I have heard some pretty negative things about the roads and how the land was obtained. I am hoping it works for us but if not I am open to hear where would be better for us. I am a tad worried the locals will hate us because of where we live!
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Unread 02-17-2010, 06:08 PM
 
Location: Bozeman, Montana
1,181 posts, read 1,242,545 times
Reputation: 603
No, people are friendly here, they would not hate you. They'd only feel sorry for you being ripped off by the Ponderosa Pines developer.

You will find that location will end up being very expensive in the long run with the problems with getting water, your car being torn up, gas driving into a town for groceries, and especially if you have kids, it is hard to get to the school or do after school activities.
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