There was no opposition to a land transfer concerning the Montana Development Center property during a public hearing held June 24.
The hearing, conducted via Zoom by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, was to collect public comments on a proposed land exchange involving state owned trust- and non-trust land.
The hearing brings Jefferson County one step closer to acquiring the 32-acre campus in Boulder and realizing its plans to repurpose the property. Some potential uses include creating a veterans education and support facility and pain clinic through the Veterans Administration.
The land transfer will also allow the county to acquire the property without having to pay market value.
The appraised value of the 32 acre campus is about $325,000 without the buildings and the appraisal was conducted in February, said Mike Atwood, DNRC real estate bureau chief.
The MDC property is considered DNRC trust property, meaning it is held to benefit other state entities by generating revenue. Non-trust land is property administered by other state agencies.
If a land exchange is not done, the property would need to be auctioned off, said Atwood.
The land being exchanged, in this case non-trust land south of Boulder off Highway 69, has to be similar in value, said Atwood, adding that the land is owned by the Department of Corrections and was valued at $2,300 an acre. The 154 acres was the most logical division of the two parcels, he said.
The purpose of the exchange is to remove the trust-land title on the MDC campus property.
The exchange was described as a “win-win” by DNRC staff at the hearing and the process will likely be finished in September.
Once the administrative process is completed, the next step would be to transfer the property to Jefferson County.
Those who attended the hearing and were in favor of the exchange included Jefferson County Commissioners Chairman Leonard Wortman, Commissioner Cory Kirsch, Boulder City Council President Drew Dawson, Jefferson Local Development Corporation Project Coordinator Tom Harrington and Nick Hensleigh, JLDC Board member.
Kirsch said that as a Boulder Main Street business owner, the MDC campus closure caused him to lose a good deal of business and he’s looking forward to the property being used again.
The Montana Development Center closed in late 2018 and had once employed 250 people. Since its closure, the county has looked into different ways to utilize the property, which includes numerous buildings.