Missoula insurance agent and entrepreneur Toby Hansen petitioned for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Aug. 19, a move he believes will stabilize longstanding legal entanglements that have plagued development near his nearby outdoor concert venue—Ryan Creek Meadows—without endangering the venue itself.
The August petition states Hansen claimed as much as $1 million in liabilities. Most of those liabilities were accrued through the planning of the 500-lot Ryan Creek Major Subdivision 24 miles west of Missoula, and a subsequent three-year legal battle with Granite County over approval of the development, Hansen says. According to court records, Granite County commissioners denied Hansen's request for the subdivision—which included plans for a school, ambulance service and a small mall—in May 2007 based on traffic concerns along Beavertail Road and potential impacts to neighboring agricultural operations.
Hansen appealed the county's decision first in district court in 2008 and finally before the Montana Supreme Court last year. Both appeals were denied, and Hansen is now considering a series of minor development projects for the property that he says will likely focus on small-scale farming.
"At this point [the bankruptcy] will probably stabilize the plans for [Ryan Creek] and allow several things out there to go forward," Hansen says. "It brings an end to some uncertainty, I think, over the property, which—as painful as it is in the end—is probably a good thing."
What the bankruptcy will not do, Hansen stresses, is affect the existing 200-acre Ryan Creek concert venue, where the Black Crowes were scheduled to headline a Sept. 1 show. The venue is listed as a limited liability company, protecting it from inclusion in Hansen's Chapter 11 petition. Hansen still intends to make Ryan Creek a destination for big-name acts traveling through Missoula, but admits several promoters backed out of major shows this season and the venue has suffered setbacks due to routing problems in the region.
"This season was more successful than last season, but it wasn't as successful as we'd hoped," Hansen says. "So we just have to keep building on that."
Ryan Creek Meadows scheduled only four concerts this summer: Slightly Stoopid, The Cold Hard Cash Show, Marshall Tucker Band and the Black Crowes.This story was updated Sept. 2. After the Independent went to press, the Black Crowes were either unwilling or unable to take the stage for their show at Ryan Creek Meadows. We'll update our blog as additional details become available.