Wednesday, October 27, 2021
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Saying property is better as long-term housing, Council denies land use request

by HEIDI DESCH
Whitefish Pilot | October 6, 2021 1:00 AM

Whitefish City Council recently shot down a request for a property on U.S. Highway 93 West to change the land use designation that could have opened up the ability for vacation rentals on the site.

The 406 Standard LLC had been seeking a growth policy amendment for the property at 1625 Highway 93 W. The request was to change the land use designation from suburban residential to resort residential for the nearly 2-acre property to facilitate an eventual rezone that could have made short-term rentals an option for the property.

Council unanimously voted to deny the change.

Councilor Rebecca Norton said changing the land use designation has no community benefit, which is required when updating the growth policy.

“I think the community conditions are that we need real housing for real people,” she said. “We don’t need short-term rental units. We need long-term rentals.”

Earlier in the night, Council approved a conditional use permit for the same property that allows for the construction of six single-family condos in detached buildings. A CUP is required for multiple buildings on a single lot.

An adjacent property, at 1515 Highway 93 West, with the same owner is already planned to be developed with a 52-unit condominium project on 4.47 acres. The owner plans shared driveway access and amenities for both projects. That property was previously zoned low-density resort residential, which allows for vacation rentals.

But when it came to the property planned for six standalone condos, Council said that vacation rentals are not what’s needed in the community and thus the land use designation change wouldn’t make sense.

Councilor Frank Sweeney said the condo project is an attractive development that would serve the community well as long-term housing.

“The community benefit to this project should be long-term rentals,” he said.