Alta Meadow Ranch Home Owners Association
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ALTA MEADOW RANCH is governed by a
home owners association. The ranch functions best when key elements of
infrastructure are in working order, and since all property owners benefit
from the proper functioning of this infrastructure, the responsibility
is a shared one. A reserve fund will be established for emergency
expenditures, a possibility not entirely unexpected in a land heavily
influenced by natural forces. Special assessments may be necessary and
must be approved by 51% of the HOA. Owners will have one vote per acre.
Upon joining the HOA new members will contribute a deposit to
establish an operating account and reserve fund. Contribution of
dues for the reserve account will be on an as-needed basis while ongoing expenses will be
billed monthly. Monies in the HOA account will be used for repairs and
maintenance of those areas of the ranch designated for common use or
having common interest and are listed below.
1. Roads (repairs and snow removal)
2. Bridges (excluding the bridges to Tract E)
3. River and creek banks
4. Common area trails
5. Ponds in common areas
6. Trees in common areas
7. Mail facility
8. Refuse collection structure
9. Weed abatement on common and private areas
10. Fire retardant measures (removal of down timber & dead limbs) in common areas
11. Payment of refuse collection fees and accounting fees
12. Ownership and management of water rights and maintenance of irrigation system
HOA RESPONSIBILITIES (background information)
The roads will need minor repairs almost yearly, and snow accumulations require plowing in the winter on an unpredictable basis. The entry way bridge and the bridge between Tracts A and C were recently constructed with substantial concrete abutments and steel supports. Barring an accident or major flooding, they should be functional for the foreseeable future.
With regard to irrigation, all tracts benefit directly or indirectly from the gravity irrigation diverted from Chicken Creek, with the diversion located on forest service land just west of the ranch. Absent this vital water, the entire ecosystem of Alta Meadow will suffer serious degradation. The diversion is a carefully crafted, fish-friendly system of weirs (as opposed to a dam) and will require occasional maintenance, and the ditches will need repair from time to time.
Regarding the care of trees in the common areas, there is only one such instance where this will be necessary. That portion of Tract D which is east of the West Fork of the Bitterroot River at the main ranch entrance has a grove of Cottonwood trees and a small number of conifers planted by Earth & Wood Landscaping. They service the irrigation equipment each spring and fall for a fixed fee and charge separately for any repairs necessary. Irrigation of these trees each summer will be performed by the HOA caretaker.
Since snow removal will depend on the amount of snowfall, the time necessary to remove it will be the basis on which charges are calculated. Alta Meadow Ranch Inc. will provide the snow removal equipment and personnel, and will bill the HOA for this service. The cost per hour will reflect standard charges for the equipment and operator. The HOA will be billed separately for snow removal from common areas. Charges to individual owners will reflect the time required to remove snow from their roads and driveways.
Alta Meadow Ranch, Inc. also has equipment to perform minor road repairs. For more substantial repairs and maintenance of roads, as well as repairs of stream banks and irrigation system, the HOA will employ a construction company with heavier equipment.
OWNER’S OPTIONS & RESPONSIBILITIES (background information)
Services provided to individual owners by the HOA caretaker or outside contractors will be billed separately, also on a monthly basis. Upon request from owners, these services could include lawn mowing, house cleaning and minor repairs, minor road and driveway repairs, and general caretaking in case of the prolonged absence of an owner. Additionally, Earth and Wood Landscaping, the company that installed much of the ranch landscaping and watering system, will be available to individual owners to perform semi-annual inspections and maintenance for the automated irrigation systems on Tracts A, C & D. Those portions of Alta Meadow Trail not considered common areas and private driveways will be the responsibility of individual owners. When necessary a construction firm will be contracted to repair common area roads, and at that time would be available to repair private roads and driveways. They would be asked to calculate charges separately on work performed on private roads and driveways. These charges would be paid by individual owners.
The owners of Tracts B, C, & D will be responsible for harvesting hay from their respective fields. A custom haying company will be employed and costs for this service will be shared by the owners based on acreage. Hay storage will occur in the buildings on Tracts B and E prior to use or sale. The hay could either be used for ranch livestock or sold on the local market with proceeds divided according to acreage.
RESTRICTIONS ON LAND USE
No subdivision of any tract will be permitted.
TRACT A consists of about 47 acres of meadow and forest. It is the site of the River Lodge, located near the bank of the West Fork of the Bitterroot River. On the southwestern edge of this property is a former trailer site for which utilities were installed by a previous owner. It has electricity, a water well and a septic system. There is a conservation easement on this property which limits building and land use. The site of the previous trailer with utilities may be used for a barn and/or shop, but not another residence. The River Lodge could be replaced by a building roughly its same size or somewhat larger in the same location. No additional residences, buildings or fencing will be permitted. The land available is not suitable to permit the keeping of livestock other than a small number (2) of horses or camelids.
TRACT C is about 37 acres of meadowland, willow groves and ponds. It abuts the West Fork of the Bitterroot River on the east and forest service land on the West. On its northwestern aspect is the Ranch House (and its adjacent garage/shop). A covenant for this parcel limits construction of a new residence to replacement of the present residence and garage, with expansion to the southwest. No additional fencing or building will be permitted. A portion of this tract is a traditional hayfield and requires harvesting each summer in order to maintain water rights for the ranch. A small number (2 to 3) horses could be kept by owners of Tract C by leasing the horse facilities on an adjacent portion of Tract B. TRACT C HAS BEEN SOLD.
TRACT D consists of about 29 acres of meadow and willow groves containing three cabins, two of which are restored original buildings dating from 1900 and 1910. This tract is bounded by the West Fork of the Bitterroot River on the east, Chicken Creek on the south and forest service land on the west. The northern boundary traverses the meadow and willow grove, the latter providing an excellent visual barrier. The cabins are separated visually by an extensive landscaping project planted in the spring of 2002. It will be a HOA requirement that this landscaping be maintained. Much of this tract is traditional hayfield and requires harvesting each summer to maintain water rights for the ranch. A covenant for this parcel stipulates that no additional fencing will be permitted. One new building in the form of a residence will be permitted on tract D in the location of the Barnhouse. In the case of a remodel effort, the Barnhouse has a flexible building plan which would lend itself to extensive renovation. There is ample room to expand in all directions except southward whether starting anew or remodeling. Only the owner’s personal vehicles (cars & light trucks) may be parked outside the cabins until a garage is available. The Stagecoach Inn, which is well away from the Barnhouse site, is considered an historical building and may not be destroyed or moved. The Homestead, while nearer to the Barnhouse , is well shielded by conifers, and being another historical treasure, may not be removed or destroyed. A small number of horses (2 to 3) could be kept by owners of Tract D by leasing the horse facilities on Tract E, which is immediately adjacent.
TRACT E is a 43-acre parcel south of Chicken Creek at its confluence with the West Fork of the Bitterroot River. The land on the east side of the river is quite steep and forested, and on the west side of the river the few acres are taken up by a horse barn and large implement shed, as well as two fenced pastures. A portion of the 3,000 SF implement shed will be considered common area and used for storage of HOA equipment. Tract E is not for sale at this time, but its horse barn and pastures are available for lease at an nominal rate.
TRACT 6 is an 8-acre parcel on the hillside east of the river and road. The West Fork of the Bitterroot River forms its western boundary and on the other three sides the land is forested, melding into Tract E on the south and east. The land surrounding the home on this tract is heavily forested and somewhat uneven, and is unsuitable for further construction, fencing or the keeping of livestock. TRACT C HAS BEEN SOLD.
ARCHITECTURAL STANDARDS FOR ALTA MEADOW RANCH
Ranch style construction compatible with other buildings at AMR
Exteriors – Log or board (cedar or redwood) with river stone accents
Exterior finish - Natural or stained but not painted
Roof material – metal or slate (fire protection)
Metal roof colors – Dark Brown, Dark Green, Terra Cotta
Building height – 35 feet above grade
Square footage not to exceed 8,000 SF and must be greater than 2,500 SF
Primary heating source must not be wood stove or wood burning fireplace
Residences must include garage spaces for all vehicles.
The speed limit for vehicular traffic will be 20 miles per hour on Alta Meadow Trail and driveways to individual homes. For All Terrain Vehicles and Snowmobiles the speed limit will be 10 miles per hour, and Alta Meadow Trail can only be use by these vehicles to enter and leave the ranch. No use of ATVs or snowmobiles will be permitted on the trails or meadows except for ranch maintenance and repair projects. Visiting and owner's recreational vehicles may be parked outside a cabin or home for no more than one week.
It should be noted that the term "common area" does not reflect ownership of these areas by the Alta Meadow Ranch Home Owners Association, but rather easements granted by each owner for common usage. Areas for common use have been established to reflect the interdependent nature of the different tracts on the ranch. Each tract contributes to the pool of common areas based on its location and topography, benefiting all owners with very little, if any, infringement on privacy. It is with this type of arrangement that each tract's value is enhanced, as is the convenience and enjoyment afforded individual owners. The roads designated for common use are for pedestrian and equestrian traffic only, with the exception of the short distance to the refuse collection structure and mail facility on Tract A, which may be approached in vehicles. Vehicle easements are in place for Tracts B & C to use Alta Meadow Trail to reach West Fork Road via the main entry way bridge on Tract D.
On Tract A the northernmost portion of Alta Meadow Trail (as it exits from West Fork Road) has been designated by the Postal Service and Bitterroot Sanitation as sites for delivery of mail and collection of refuse respectively. To minimize the impact on that entryway, the structures have been constructed in a manner compatible with ranch architecture and unobtrusively located. A sturdy collection structure well away from the residences is also a safety feature because of the occasional bear in search of an easy meal. The bridge between Tracts A and C as well as that portion of Alta Meadow Trail on Tract A would be used for vehicular traffic on a temporary basis only if the main entryway bridge on Tract D were unusable.
Tract B contributes a hiking trail system through the meadow to a natural pond, at times the home of beavers. Along the way is a spur to a river access point. The trail progresses into a beautiful forest glade with a camouflaged observation deck. From there it winds though the property forming a loop back to Alta Meadow Trail (the road). This trail is for pedestrian traffic only.
Tract C has four ponds, two of which are well away from the Ranch House and partially hidden by willows. The latter two ponds are considered common areas and will be stocked by the association. That portion of Alta Meadow Trail running through Tract C is also a common area for pedestrian and equestrian traffic. The access spur to the trail system on Tract B is limited to pedestrian use.
All of Alta Meadow Trail on Tract D is common area, providing pedestrian and equestrian access for Tracts A, E and 6 to forest service land and a hiking loop for Tracts B & C. Also the eastern portion of Tract D between West Fork Road and the West Fork of the Bitterroot River is designated for common use, providing access to a flood plain on the eastern side of the river. It is an excellent fishing spot.
Tract E contributes an area of flood plain between West Fork Road and the West Fork of the Bitterroot River. This land is immediately southwest of a similar area on Tract D. A faint trail traverses this area along the river, leading to more great fishing access. In addition, Tract E contributes a portion of the large (3,000 SF) implement shed for storage of implements used to maintain and repair infrastructure designated for common use.
Tract 6 is relatively small with no obvious common areas, but with its excellent view of the meadow, the Chalet is uniquely situated to serve as the "neighborhood watch" for the other tracts. It should also be noted that owners of Tract 6 will be contributing funds to the maintenance and repair of all areas designated for common use.
In 1997, accompanying a major improvement project on West Fork Road, the southern portion of the river running through Alta Meadow was re-engineered by federal workers to enhance flood protection and fish habitat. It has been a resounding success on both counts. This was done with natural materials - rocks, logs and tree roots. The same technique has been used by Alta Meadow Ranch, Inc. in two locations between Tracts A and B, once to protect the River Lodge from future flooding, and on another occasion when there was bank erosion requiring a significant repair. Also, after the fires west of the ranch in 2000, debris washed down Chicken Creek and lodged against some streamside willows. This resulted in a rapid deposit of silt, thereby shifting the course of the creek out of its normal path onto the meadow. This also required repair, although much less extensive. There can be no assurance that events such as these will not recur and require repair in the future.
In August 2000 the Bitterroot Valley experienced its worst fire event in memory. The Chicken Creek drainage was severely burned, but no significant damage occurred on the ranch. The fire crews used the ranch as a base of operations, stating that "we can defend this valley". They started backfires in the northwestern portion of the ranch (Tract B) involving groves of smaller trees. Subsequently, most of that fuel has been removed, thereby making the ranch safer in case of future fires. Also, conventional wisdom says that much of the fuel west of the ranch has been burned, making a similar event unlikely. However there is always the possibility of wilderness fires and significant damage to ranch property.
Alta Meadow Ranch is surrounded by wilderness and therefore is visited by wild animals that are unpredictable and could be dangerous. The ranch is most assuredly not a "theme park" and owners will need to exercise reasonable caution when moving about the meadow and forest. To date, no guest or staff member has ever been harmed by wild animals, but this does not imply that it could not happen in some unforeseen circumstance.
As in any mountainous region at the confluence of three stream drainages, Alta Meadow is subjected to strong winds from time to time. This can result in trees being blown over, and if this occurs near a structure, significant damage to that building could occur. Also, it is possible that personal injury could result, although neither event has occurred to date.