West Glacier RV park approved

Commissioners add conditions for road safety

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Glacier Park Inc.’s proposed West Glacier RV Park & Cabin Village won unanimous approval from the Flathead County commissioners on Friday.

While the commissioners will not require a new access road to the 178-acre site off River Bend Drive just west of West Glacier, they added a condition of approval that will require GPI to work with the Montana Department of Transportation to determine if any road modifications are needed at the two busy intersections affected by the development — Going-to-the-Sun Road as it intersects with U.S. 2 and River Bend Drive.

Another condition will require accesses on River Bend Drive to be engineered and approved by the county Road Department regarding ingress and egress of recreational vehicles.

Commissioner Phil Mitchell said he’d like to see a secondary entrance into the RV park, but didn’t go so far as to make a motion requiring such a road.

“If you proceed with homes [in future residential development on the site] you’re going to have to proceed with a secondary road,” Mitchell told a GPI official attending Friday’s meeting.

The commissioners added a condition to require a planned pedestrian and bike path along GPI’s property to be a 6-foot paved surface. The path will connect the development to the West Glacier town center.

Another condition will limit the number of dogs allowed per RV to just one. Three dogs per RV had been proposed, but the commissioners said the RV park is in a known wildlife area and close to Glacier National Park.

Increased traffic and congestion during the busy summer months was a key concern for West Glacier residents who implored the commissioners to either reject the project or require more traffic mitigation for the 102-space RV park and 25 guest cabins.

The commissioners delayed their final decision to Friday to allow more time to consider traffic data, but in the end they supported the findings of a study done for GPI by Abelin Traffic Services of Helena that showed the development will increase traffic on West Glacier roads by only 3 to 4 percent.

The developer shouldn’t be required to fix the entire summer traffic problem in West Glacier, Commissioner Gary Krueger said.

Mitchell said he believes the Abelin traffic study was done well, and noted the traffic counts don’t show River Bend Drive is overused. The 24-foot-wide road is built on a 60-foot right of way.

The traffic study estimated 361 average daily trips from GPI’s development.

Neighbors questioned the timing of the traffic study, conducted in October, though the study considered average traffic volumes in both the winter, when traffic is 54 percent of average, and the summer tourist season when volumes are 191 percent of average.

GPI’s property is designated as a planned community area in the Canyon Area Land Use Regulatory System, the land-use document that guides development in the West Glacier area. GPI’s planned community will include the 102 RV spaces and 25 guest cabins, as will as dedicated area for future residential development.

The proposed subdivision lots would be developed in two phases by the year 2021, according to a phasing plan submitted by GPI to the county Planning Office. GPI’s proposal required a major land-use review and a major land-use permit in addition to preliminary plat approval.

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

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