ABSAROKEE — It's a case of dueling interests set to a backdrop of Montana's mountain beauty.
A miners man camp is ruffling feathers for some Absarokee residents, but as housing shortages sweep Montana, mine executives say it's a solution to a growing problem.
Trish and Randy Klarich have lived on Rosebud Cemetery Road for six years, moving there from Colorado in search of solitude.
“This reminds me of Colorado 30 years ago, beautiful community, we love it out here," Randy Klarich says.
But now, the Klarichs say their solitude is interrupted, as a mining company is searching for solutions to housing its employees.
“We hope to be contributing not causing problems," says Jason Moran, Vice President of the Moran Group, a Canadian based mining company.
Moran Mining has contracted with the Stillwater Mine since 2000 and currently has about 170 employees working there.
"I wanted to try to create a compound where I could keep them all in one spot and keep an eye on them," Moran said.
Moran's property shares a border with the Klarichs; when Moran purchased the property for a nearby resident, it already had four cabins and Moran brought in an eight-unit trailer to house more of his employees.
Moran says he hopes to add a parking lot and rec center.
"We've tried to go through the proper channels to keep everyone happy, we thought we were," Moran said.
“This was a horse pasture, tranquil and quiet. Now we’re looking at a zillion people living in there and all down below there will be a parking area for them," Klarich said.
A public hearing is scheduled for December 13 to discuss another point of contention—the development is on a floodplain near Butcher Creek.
”We just had the 500 year flood and I didn’t have one drop of water hit my property. I still abided by what they wanted me to, I brought it up by 6 feet, but as far as flood water every hitting there, I don’t see it happening," Moran said.
The Klarichs worry if Butcher Creek does flood, changes to the pasture below will back water up onto their property.
“It’s nothing against the mine or any of them, they’re great for the community, the neighbors is what they’ve got to consider," Klarich said.
The dispute between neighbors started about a year ago and both the Klarichs and Moran Mining say they're both here to stay.
“Things have changed and it’s not our retirement home like we hoped it would be," Klarich said.
"Some people don't like change," Moran said.
The public hearing regarding Moran's application for a variance to a Floodplain Development Permit is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. December 13 at the Stillwater County Courthouse.