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Developer returns with updated proposal for KM Ranch Road

by HEIDI DESCH
Daily Inter Lake | January 11, 2023 1:00 AM

Returning with a new plan the developers behind a proposal for a 155-acre piece of property on KM Ranch Road are headed before the Flathead County Planning Board on Wednesday.

Montarise Developments, LLC is requesting a zone change for the property with the intention of submitting further plans that could result in 103 housing units. The planning board in October rejected a proposal for the property that was intended to accommodate 268 housing units and commercial use on the property.

The county planning board meets at 6 p.m. in the second-floor conference room of the South Campus Building at 40 11th St. W. in Kalispell. Recommendations from the planning board regarding the requests are forwarded to the Flathead County Commissioners for final consideration.

Montarise is seeking to change the zoning from SAG-5 suburban agricultural to R-2.5 rural residential, reducing the minimum lot size from 5 acres to 2.5 acres. The previous request sought to change the zoning to R-1 suburban residential, which has a minimum lot size of 1 acre.

Through the change, the owner is seeking to provide additional housing inventory in response to the recent sharp increase in population growth in the Flathead Valley, according to the application with the county. The property located north of the county landfill is currently forestland.

Though Montarise is seeking only a zone change at this time, the applicant has indicated bringing forward a future subdivision proposal that would include a planned unit development. That plan would call for developing the property in two phases with the potential of 103 housing units including 33 single-family homes. In addition, 32 multi-family “adult bungalow” units, 26 recreation rental cabin units and 12 hospice care dwelling units are proposed.

Open space for the project would comprise just under 8 acres for a clubhouse/fitness center and sports field and just over 24 acres of green space that includes community trails connecting residences with common facilities.

The increase in traffic from all phases of development is estimated at 741 daily trips, according to the application with the county. The traffic study shows that intersection improvements would likely be needed at where U.S. 93 intersects with both KM Ranch Road and Bowdish Road.

The original proposal drew strong opposition from neighbors.

The planning department ahead of Wednesday’s meeting had received more than 50 comments regarding the proposal. Comments received raise concerns about increased traffic, road infrastructure, water quality, impact on schools, changing the character of the neighborhood, impacts to public health and safety, wildlife and ecology concerns and the project's proximity to the landfill.