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Proposed resort in Darby subject of heated debate

Developer Brooks Pace says he wants to build a $30 million luxury resort in Darby.
Bitterroot Resort Plan
Bitterroot Resort Meeting
Brooks Pace
Posted at 9:28 AM, Apr 21, 2023

DARBY - Several hundred people gathered in the Darby Community Center Wednesday, hoping to hear details about a proposed resort in their town.

The gathering, organized on social media, included more than two hours of residents asking developer Brooks Pace about his project.

Pace is looking to spend at least $30 million to build The Bitterroot Resort at Darby.

He describes the resort as a multi-story hotel with lodges and a pool house that contains a restaurant, bar, and casino.

His main customers would be tourists that come to Darby for rodeo weekends, or to see the Yellowstone television set — all of whom he hopes are willing to pay steep prices for luxury accommodations.

Brooks Pace
Developer Brooks Pace is looking to spend at least $30 million to build The Bitterroot Resort at Darby. He talked about his plans on April 19, 2023, with area residents.

Many of the people attending the meeting said they do not want another casino or bar in the town, peppering Pace with questions about the security of the bar, the stress growth would have on already beleaguered infrastructure, and the proximity to both the elementary and high schools.

State law says the entrance to the bar cannot be within 600 feet of a school.

Pace’s master development plan was designed with this in mind and does comply. Parents, however, complained that the bar was still too close to children and that guests at the hotel would be able to watch school kids on the playground.

Pace moved to Darby about a year ago from St. George, Utah, where he built two bars and other projects. When challenged about bringing his development to the small town, he said Darby already has establishments like his.

Bitterroot Resort Meeting
Several hundred people gathered in the Darby Community Center April 19, 2023, hoping to hear details about a proposed $30 million resort in their town.

“I think you’ve got plenty of bars and casinos for plenty of problems if you want to have them,” Pace said. “But I haven’t seen any fights in the street.”

Krystal Harris-Flux has six kids in Darby schools and has organized protests against the development. She gathered signatures petitioning the town council to deny permits and says everyone living in the area should get the chance to stop it.

“This should not just be the city’s vote,” Harris-Flux said. “It should Anyone with a Darby address should be getting a say in the project and what is coming to our town.”

After the meeting, Pace admitted there are a lot of hurdles to clear for the project to be successful.

“I think the town has a pretty bad attitude about the project so far, and I think some of that is my fault,” Pace said. “That I didn’t have this town hall meeting four, five months ago when we were finally settling on a plan.”

Bitterroot Resort Plan
Developer Brooks Pace is looking to spend at least $30 million to build The Bitterroot Resort at Darby. He describes the resort as a multi-story hotel with lodges and a pool house that contains a restaurant, bar, and casino.

Not everyone dislikes the project though. There was a sizable group at the meeting that said they like how this could create jobs, and entice tourists to stay in Darby when visiting, instead of taking their money to other Bitterroot towns.

A sixth-generation resident of Darby made his opinion this way:

"They…(Darby residents) don’t want a big motel and casino, and all of the litter and glitter that goes with it. They don’t want a little Las Vegas here.”

Brooks said he Imagined The Bitterroot Resort at Darby to be a classy place, and not bring problems, but opportunity. However, he’s willing to follow the lead of the city council.

“If they shoot this project down because they convince the city council they just don’t want it and it’s their town, I can live with it,” Pace said. “I don’t need this. I’m doing this because I want to stay alive doing something productive, and I think this is needed.”

The vote on the project is now set to go before the town council, which posts its agenda Friday afternoon. If the development is on that agenda, they will meet Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at 6 p.m. in the Darby Town Hall.