The Kalispell Planning Board on Tuesday recommended approval of a proposal to annex 112 acres into the city and zone it for development of a 92-lot subdivision.
Currently undeveloped agricultural land, the property is located northwest of the intersection of Three Mile Drive and West Springcreek Road. The commercial space would be concentrated in the southeast corner of the property nearest the intersection. The rest would be residential development.
The entire northern edge of the subdivision would be preserved as a wetland and wildlife corridor. The development will include about 30 acres of open space, including the wetland.
The proposal is likely to come before the City Council within a month.
Members of the Planning Board spoke about the struggle they face when deciding to annex and approve large projects such as the one proposed.
One person spoke during public comment about her concerns with the new subdivision.
Kristen Heck lives nearby with her husband on land they still rely on for agricultural use. One of her concerns was that all the open space was home to wildlife that would no longer find refuge on the property.
“We will miss this open land,” Heck said. “It’s beautiful land.”
She said a herd of about 40 elk had spent time there each of the past couple years, which they enjoyed greatly.
She said they were also concerned that with so many more people living in close proximity to their property, they would have to construct fencing around potentially dangerous agricultural equipment. She said they had talked to the developer about sharing the cost of such improvements, and were pleased with the way those discussions had gone.
The property would be located inside the boundaries of School District 1 and West Valley Elementary. Planning staff estimates the subdivision would bring an additional 71 school-aged children.
Once completed, the project will hook up to the Westside Interceptor Project that the city will be constructing during the summer months to increase sewer capacity on that end of town.
Planning Board member Rory Young abstained from all votes on the item because he works for one of the firms involved in the project.
Other items the board considered Tuesday:
• The board approved a conditional-use permit to allow a heating, ventilation and air conditioning business to move into a building at 707 W. Center Street. The building, which is now empty, abuts the railroad tracks that are set to be ripped out and replaced with a bike and pedestrian trail in the next year or two.
The board discussed whether this was an appropriate use for a large space near the anticipated trail, and came to the decision that it was a good transitional use. Since the trail was still a year or two off and the HVAC business would require significant investment in making the property look more appealing, it was worth letting them move in and use it, the board decided.
• The board heard presentations from representatives of various schools in Kalispell that are planning changes in the coming year. The schools carry exemptions from municipal zoning regulations so the board didn’t face a vote on any of the proposed changes, but the meeting served as a venue for a public hearing on the changes.
Reporter Peregrine Frissell can be reached at (406) 758-4438 or email@example.com.