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City stamps approval on mixed-use building

by JULIE ENGLER
Whitefish Pilot | November 23, 2022 1:00 AM

What is currently a tattoo parlor in a small, historic house will soon be a three-story building on East Second Street in downtown Whitefish.

The Whitefish City Council recently voted unanimously to approve a request for a conditional use permit to develop a mixed-use building at 220 East Second Street. The permit is required in the WB-3 zone for multi-family dwellings with four or more units.

The owner, MH legacy, LLC, has proposed a mixed-use building with two commercial spaces on the ground floor as well as four residential units above, on the second and third floors. The applicant is also proposing four parking spaces for the residential units in a first-floor garage.

The property currently houses a tattoo parlor and it sits on two city lots. The city staff report says the new building will be accessed via Second Street and the current alley to the north will serve the site as well, with access to the garage.

Whitefish Planner Nelson Loring said the applicant will have to widen the alley to the north of the building from its current 12 feet to 16 feet. This will make that section of the alley match the rest of the alley to the west which has been previously improved.

According to the staff report, the zoning permits buildings to have a height of 45 feet with a maximum of three stories and the proposed building will have three stories and be within the height limit.

“All setbacks, parking and height requirements are met and will be confirmed at the time of building permit,” said Loring. “They are planning to build above the 35 feet which requires that additional 20-foot setback from the street.”

The Whitefish Planning Board unanimously recommended approval of the request at their Oct. 20 meeting.

Cate Walker from Northwest Design Studio, the applicant, had nothing to add after Loring’s report and said the engineer was present to field questions, should there be any. Aside from two housekeeping-type questions, the council had nothing else to discuss on the matter.

Whitefish resident Rhonda Fitzgerald said she did not object to this project since it fits the city’s guidelines but stated, “We should recognize this is a commercial use. This isn’t residential, these are short-term rentals and throughout the documents, it refers to the residents and so on… I think we need to get a grip about what we’re actually building here in Whitefish and not kid ourselves.

“Clearly what you’re approving is four short-term rentals… with a commercial space on the ground floor and I think we should all acknowledge that,” she added.

Fitzgerald was the sole public comment on this project before the council approved the permit unanimously.

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