Townhouse project with affordable units gets OK

by HEIDI DESCH
Editor | July 15, 2020 1:00 AM

Whitefish City Council last week approved a 20-townhouse residential subdivision for West Second Street that plans to include three deed-restricted affordable units.

Big Mountain River LLC was requesting a preliminary plat to develop four two-unit buildings and four three-unit buildings on the property along the Whitefish River.

Sierra McCartney, with Bruce Boody Landscape Architect, in representing the developer, said a lot of thought went into the aesthetic design of the project to make it look attractive along Second Street, and also to create a pedestrian-oriented development.

“We wanted to take what we love about residential areas and apply it to this development the best we could,” she said. “We’re also excited to provide affordable housing.”

The project would provide open space areas to the north, along the Whitefish River, and to the west. The open space area to the west would contain a 10-foot wide paved pedestrian bicycle path within a 20-foot easement and this trail is planned to connect West Second to the new trail system in the 95 Karrow project to the north.

To comply with the Legacy Homes program, the applicant is proposing to develop three deed restricted affordable units and pay the fee in lieu for the fourth unit in the amount of $116,930.

Councilor Rebecca Norton praised the plan.

“It sounds like a thoughtful project,” she said. “I’m glad for the affordable housing on site.”

The plan calls for three deed-restricted units with two two-bedroom units and one one-bedroom unit. The units are proposed to be priced at an affordable rate for those making 80% to 120% of area median income.

The AMI for Flathead County last year for a two-person household was $55,700, or what is referred to as 100% AMI. The industry standard is that housing costs should be no more than 30% of gross monthly income to be considered affordable.

The development would include a new single access off of West Second Street and a private road would loop through the property for access to all units. There would also be a private sidewalk system and a new paved trail along the western edge of the property would be open to the public.

The applicant is proposing to protect the Whitefish River with a buffer and setback meeting the Water Quality Protection regulations.

The property is currently vacant and is zoned low-density multi-family residential.