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County planning board again rejects KM Ranch proposal

by HEIDI DESCH
Daily Inter Lake | February 15, 2023 1:00 AM

The Flathead County Planning Board on Wednesday again gave a negative recommendation for a proposal that could lead to a residential development along KM Ranch Road.

It was the second time the board has voted against a request to rezone the 155 acres just north of the county landfill. Developers are seeking a zone change from SAG-5 suburban agricultural to R-2.5 rural residential, reducing the minimum lot size from 5 acres to 2.5 acres.

The board reiterated many of the same concerns it had in October around the request from Montarise Developments, LLC. At that time, the developer was looking to change the zoning from SAG-5 suburban agricultural to R-1 suburban residential.

The planning board only makes recommendations that are forwarded to the county commissioners for a final decision.

Board member Greg Stevens said the decision comes down to the zone change not meeting the requirements for safety.

“I think SAG-5 is the appropriate zoning to have there,” he said. “There are traffic concerns, the proximity to the landfill is a concern and this is out of character for the neighborhood.”

Board member Buck Breckinridge said changing zoning from suburban agricultural to suburban residential is a jump too far.

“When we move from SAG to an R, that’s worrisome for me,” he said. “There’s a lot more infrastructure that is required for residential zoning and KM Ranch Road just isn’t designed for this.”

Montarise representatives have said the project is designed to create housing that is needed in the Flathead Valley. However, neighbors have continued to voice concerns about increasing traffic, impacts to water quality and changes to the character of the neighborhood.

Following the previous negative vote, Montarise revamped its project with less density aiming to take into account concerns from neighbors. And though it is still only seeking a rezone, presented plans say it intended to apply for a planned unit development that would have the potential for 103 housing units on the property – 33 single-family units, 32 multi-family “adult bungalow” units, 26 recreational rental cabins and 12 hospice care dwelling units.

Stevens said a planned unit development would be more appropriate in city limits rather than the county, or in a place in the county that already has more development.

“They had nice plans they presented and those would be good in another place,” he added.

THE BOARD also gave positive recommendations for three other requests at the meeting. Caitlin Spratling, is seeking a preliminary plat approval for River Meadows Subdivision, a proposal to create six residential lots on just over 40 acres with the average lot size of 6.67 acres. The property is located at 124 and 166 Glacier Flats Road, near Kalispell.

Freedom Group of Montana is seeking preliminary plat approval for the Freedom Group of Montana Subdivision, a proposal to create 12 residential lots on just over 15 acres. The property is located off Helena Flats Road, south of Reserve Drive, near Kalispell.

Brent Young and Garrett Yarde are seeking preliminary plat approval of Shadow Mountain Estates, a proposal to create 20 residential lots on 15.44 acres. The property is located at 403 Helena Flats Road, near Kalispell.