East Helena weighing public comment on proposed subdivision

Posted at 7:42 AM, Oct 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-18 17:28:33-04

HELENA — Developers of a new subdivision near East Helena plan to break ground next Spring, if given the stamp of approval by the city.

The City of East Helena is in the process of taking public comment on the Vigilante Subdivision, a proposed 72 lot development just north of East Helena off Valley Drive.

The proposed subdivision is the brainchild of Jerry Kittson, a partner at Vigilante Developers. Kittson saw an opportunity in East Helena more than a decade ago and decided to take it.

“There was one new house for sale in the city of East Helena, and I thought ‘what a better time to jump in,’” Kittson said. “We’re wanting just to build a nice, new neighborhood. Affordable housing.”

Right next to the property is the new East Helena High School, slated for completion in 2020. It comes as no coincidence that the developers are hoping to break ground around the same time the high school will open.

“We’ll have a bike path and sidewalks connecting all the school systems pretty much from this location,” Kittson said.

The subdivision, Kittson said, will be built in phases over three years, with the cost per lot between $70,000 and $75,000 for lots ranging in size between 8,500 to 10,500 square feet.

Once purchased, property owners have a choice in the company who does the construction, but Kittson said he hopes people choose local.

“We want to utilize local workforce and people,” Kittson said.

The subdivision isn’t a done deal, though. The project still needs approval from city officials and state agencies, but Triple Tree Engineer Jason Crawford said that process is going smoothly.

“The city has been great to work with. City Engineers, city planners, the mayor, council folks have been great,” Crawford said.

If approved, the subdivision would be annexed into the City of East Helena and receive city services like water and sewer.

East Helena Mayor James Schell said residents in the area raised questions about the project at a recent public meeting.

“There’s a concern for traffic and for roads,” Schell said.

Schell said Vigilante Developers will pay a proportionate share of money to improve roads adjacent to the project, if approved.

East Helena’s tax base would also be expanded by annexing the subdivision into the city, and Schell said that will help improves roads and city infrastructure.

“We definitely don’t want to stop the growth. That’s for sure,” Schell said.

Schell said the city wants to make sure that growth doesn’t come at a detriment to other residents.

The East Helena Planning Board is holding a public meeting to discuss the Vigilante Subdivision Tuesday Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. at East Helena City Hall.