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Council approves expansion for Don K car dealership

by HEIDI DESCH
Whitefish Pilot | August 25, 2021 1:00 AM

Whitefish City Council last week approved the third expansion in the past two years for the Don K car dealership on Highway 93.

Don Kaltschmidt of Eagle Enterprises requested a conditional use permit to expand the footprint of the dealership. The expansion would connect the Chrysler dealership building to the body shop building to the north, enclosing the existing covered drop-off area beside the building and expand the showroom.

Council approved the expansion along with a requirement that the dealership construct a sidewalk on its property. Representatives of the dealership asked that the condition not be included.

As part of the expansion, the city planning department recommended a conditional of approval that the business construct a sidewalk along Shiloh Avenue. Noting that vehicles park on the dealership side of the street, the planning staff said a sidewalk is important for pedestrian safety.

Shiloh Avenue is eventually intended to be a major north-south arterial to parallel the highway.

Councilor Rebecca Norton said constructing the sidewalk is an important safety issue.

“We’re already seeing a lot of growth out there,” Norton said. “When we can get our transportation plan moving we should take advantage of that.”

Aaron Wallace, with Montana Creative representing the car dealership, asked that the sidewalk not be required. He said the expansion is intended to create more space and improve the aesthetics of the building.

“There haven’t been any safety or traffic issues now without that sidewalk,” he said. “The fence on the property creates a visual buffer and we’re worried about the safety of people if they walk along that sidewalk.”

In explaining the reasoning behind the recommendation for a sidewalk, Public Works Director Craig Workman said with each CUP that’s been approved for the dealership there’s been additional usage that occurs on the roadway.

“Staff witnesses people that park on that roadway that would clearly use that sidewalk,” he said. “It feels like a cumulative process that we didn’t catch on previous CUPs.”

The total square footage for the three additions is 7,800 square feet. The total square footage of the building once all additions are made would be about 52,700 square feet.

Council last week also:

• Approved a rezone for one parcel along Highway 93 West from county one-family residential to city one-family residential. The parcel, which is just under 2 acres in size, was recently annexed into the city.

• Approved budget amendments for its fiscal year 2021 budget.

One was for $45,000 in tax increment funds that were as a result of costs incurred for the Baker Avenue underpass project.

The second item was for $250,000 to provide for costs not included in the budget related to the transition of garbage billing back to the city from its garbage contractor Republic Services.

• Approved a request to transfer ownership of a portion of Whitefish Lookout Road to owners of a lot in Iron Horse. The owners are in the process of designing a single-family home on the property and discovered a culvert that impacts their ability to construct the home.

By transferring about 1,500 square feet of the property to the private owners it allows them to move the culvert. The Public Works Department notes that while the city may own the right of way, the road has never been maintained by the city.