BUTTE— The Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners discussed Aware Inc’s proposed subdivision plans to build single-story townhomes for clients in need of housing.
"On March 24, the planning board heard this subdivision and they recommended approval of the subdivision, approval of the variance request with an amendment to the condition to include sidewalk installment on Pine Street," said Lila Osborn, Senior planner for Butte-Silver Bow's planning department.
Aware Inc’s proposed subdivision would develop nine lots on land they own near Continental Drive. Eight of those lots would have two single-family, two bed-two bath units each sharing a common wall. The ninth lot would be used for stormwater infrastructure.
Ed Banderob, a resident of the neighborhood the proposed townhomes would be built near, spoke against the plan.
"I am concerned about building these kinds of facilities for a vulnerable population in an area that possesses a questionable health risk," said Banderob.
The questionable health risk comes from a six-year-old report that may have been skewed because of wildfire season.
The study, “Assessing human metal accumulations in an urban Superfund site”, found Butte residents had higher levels of arsenic and manganese than residents in Bozeman. The study had many limitations like too small sample sizes of residents, unknown origin of metals found in the air, and much more.
Steve Francisco, Operations lead for Aware Inc, says that Aware worked with Butte-Silver Bow to test 16 soil samples from the property. One of the samples showed a slight elevation of toxins, but Francisco was told it wasn’t something to worry about.
"We aren’t going to take people that we’re trying to care for in every other way in their life and put them into a location that we didn’t feel was safe for them," said Francisco.
If approved, Aware hopes to begin construction soon and have one home complete by the fall.