The Whitefish Planning Board will continue two public hearings on Thursday on the proposed development of the Mountain Gateway at the base of Big Mountain.
After more than four hours of public testimony at its October 21 meeting, the board decided to continue the hearings and is receiving comments on Thursday from those who attended the October 21 meeting through Webex and had no opportunity to increase speak.
Arim Mountain Gateway LLC is requesting two separate permits.
Initially, approval will be sought for the construction of a planned residential unit to develop a mixed residential / commercial project with 318 residential units – 270 apartments, 24 townhouses and 24 condominiums – north of the intersection of East Lakeshore Drive and Big Mountain Road. The lots are divided into two-family homes, low-density apartment buildings, and two-family homes in Flathead County. The three district properties would be attached to the city at the time of approval.
Second, the developer is requesting a conditional zoning change to apply a commercial zone in the northeast corner of the intersection of East Lakeshore Drive and Big Mountain Road. The property is a two-family house.
The Whitefish Planning Office staff continues to recommend approving both requests.
The planning committee’s recommendation will be forwarded to Whitefish City Council for final approval on January 18th.
Fierce opposition was expressed to the planned mixed use.
A new nonprofit group called Flathead Families for Responsible Growth was formed in response to the project, which will negatively impact water quality, traffic and the way of life in small towns in Whitefish.
“Our community has already spoken out against Mountain Gateway, with over 3,700 names on a petition, over 400 letters to the planning committee and city council, and hundreds of people who attended the October 21 planning committee meeting in person and online.” said Carol Atkinson, one of the organizers of the Flathead Families, said in a letter to the Daily Inter Lake. “Remember, we are not against growth. We are against irresponsible growth in our community. And we reject this development because it is not a sensible answer to affordable living space, even if the clients would like it. “
Flathead Families has alleged that the developers’ application for Mountain Gateway was lacking in detail, particularly around the traffic impact – including concerns about getting on and off ambulance vehicles – and the detrimental impact that such a large development is having on the surrounding area could whitefish lake.
Will MacDonald, one of the developers, told Inter Lake in September that the commercial space would include a small market similar to Markus Foods and possibly a daycare for working families. About 1.5 hectares adjacent to the development would be donated to the city for a new fire station. And developers hope to add a stop for Whitefish’s SNOW bus to further alleviate traffic concerns.
MacDonald claims the project will help tackle the city’s housing crisis. Noting that none of the new units would be used as short-term renters, he said condos could be an economic stepping stone for first-time home buyers.
IN OTHER Business, the planning authority will submit an application from Little Bear Development No. 2 LLC is considering approval of a 20-lot subdivision along Fairway Drive south of the Grouse Mountain soccer fields.
The city has proposed a number of building text changes that change short-term rental standards.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Whitefish City Hall. It will also be available for viewing and commenting through Webex. Instructions can be found on the city’s website.
News editor Lynnette Hintze can be reached at 406-758-4421 or [email protected]