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City Council to look at Mountain Gateway development

by Whitefish Pilot
| January 12, 2022 1:00 AM

A large-scale residential and commercial development at the base of Big Mountain Road is set to go before the Whitefish City Council on Jan. 18.

The Planning Board looked at the proposal twice, hearing hours of public comment each time, and in November recommended denial of the development. The planning board voted 3-1 to deny the project citing concerns over the impact the project would have regarding traffic on an already congested Wisconsin Avenue and placing the commercial portion of the project in a residential neighborhood.

Developers behind the Mountain Gateway project are requesting a planned unit development and conditional zoning for the project that is proposed to include 318 residential units.

The residential PUD would allow for the construction of 318 housing units on the 32.7 acres on the north side of Big Mountain Road and East Lakeshore Drive intersection.

Throughout both public hearings at the planning board meetings, the public overwhelmingly spoke out against the project. However, some community members were in favor of the development because of the developer’s plan to provide some affordable workforce housing.

The developer is voluntarily participating in the city’s Legacy Homes Program providing 32 deed-restricted affordable rental units. The developer has said the rent for those affordable units would range from $745 per month for a studio apartment to $1,277 for a two-bedroom apartment, depending on income.

On the west side of Big Mountain Road the project proposes a 270-unit rental community with 460 parking spaces. Two buildings with common open space are proposed to be clustered in the center of the property.

On the east side of Big Mountain Road, the project proposes 24 condo units at the north end and 24 townhouse units in the central portion with access off Big Mountain Road.

As part of the project, a new roundabout is proposed at the intersection of East Lakeshore Drive and Big Mountain Road. But because Big Mountain Road is a state road, the Montana Department of Transportation would decide what type of traffic device would be installed at the intersection.

At the northeast corner of the intersection, the developer is also proposing a neighborhood commercial development with access off East Lakeshore Drive. Related to this, the developer has requested conditional zoning to rezone the property into blended zoning.

Tuesday’s council meeting will be the first time City Council has considered the project.

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