Board looks at Whitefish downtown update

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The Whitefish Planning Board has one of its heaviest agendas in months as it meets tonight, with six public hearings that include a proposed update of the downtown master plan.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Whitefish City Hall.

Crandall-Arambula, the Portland consulting firm that drafted the original downtown master plan in 2006, has shepherded the update that if adopted will become an amendment to the Whitefish growth policy.

The downtown plan is meant to be a guide for future projects, zoning and development and works as a companion document to the growth policy and area neighborhood plans.

The proposed update takes an aggressive approach to the city’s parking problem, recommending sites for three parking structures in coming years.

Another key recommendation is creating a downtown retail loop by extending retail stores on Central Avenue and expanding retail growth into the Railway District along First and Third streets and Lupfer Avenue, using the same streetscape design along Central Avenue.

To accomplish the desired retail-only zone, city zoning regulations would need to be amended to require ground-floor retail exclusivity in the downtown loop, according to Planning Director David Taylor’s staff report.

A downtown “living room” is proposed by constructing a large paved plaza at the intersection of Railway Street and Central Avenue just west of the train depot.

Future traffic lights are recommended at Second and Lupfer, First and Baker, and Third and Baker to facilitate pedestrian traffic and slow down motorists. A protected bikeway up Spokane Avenue and over to Wisconsin Avenue is recommended.

Other public hearings include:

v A request by Colleen Turner to rezone 5.7 acres at 6010 U.S. 93 S. to county residential and secondary business to facilitate a two-lot subdivision. The property currently has three zoning designations, including agricultural, suburban agricultural 5-acre, and secondary business.

v A request by Eagle Enterprises to rezone 13.8 acres at 6200 U.S. 93 S. from agricultural and secondary business to estate residential and secondary business. Austin Funeral Home is located on the property. The applicant wants to expand the depth of the commercial line to match that of adjacent commercial properties.

v A request by Rob Pero on behalf of Hilltop Partners to subdivide 6.1 acres into 32 lots — 20 single-family and 12 townhouse lots — between Great Northern and Brimstone drives in the Great Northern Heights development west of Western Building Center.

v A request by Haugen Heights LLC to rezone 35.3 acres at 320 Haugen Heights Road west of Whitefish Lake Golf Course from county residential to estate residential to accommodate a 32-lot subdivision called Tamarack Ridge. The property is outside city limits but is expected to be annexed into the city as part of the subdivision development.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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