The Kalispell Planning Board approved a proposal for a 330-space recreational vehicle park at the south end of the city at their meeting Tuesday evening.
The board voted to recommend that City Council approves the list of measures necessary to build the park on a currently undeveloped lot. It included amendments to the growth policy to allow for mixed-use rather than just urban-residential use and for the annexation of a small percentage of the lot that is not yet part of the city.
The lot is bordered by the Great Northern Historical bike trail along the western and southern boundaries, and the Montana Department of Transportation bike trail along the northern boundary, which separates the lot from the U.S. 93 bypass. A line extending south from the southernmost roundabout would approximate the park’s eastern border and would extend south all the way to Ashley Meadows Road.
The two Florida-based developers behind the project, Montana Basecamp, Inc. and Basecamp Outpost LLC, said the location at the south end of town was ideal because of its proximity to both the amenities of downtown and the bike path that spans from the proposed site to the downtown area and on to Kila.
Application documents also state that developers intend to attract high-end clientele interested in staying at a place with opportunities for exercise, alluding again to the nearby bike paths and hiking opportunities across the valley.
Several members of the public spoke about the proposal during public comment, with some in favor of the project and some opposed.
One man said he thought this project could help put Kalispell on the map for RV-owning senior citizens with tourist dollars to spend from all over the country.
“I completely support this project for several reasons,” said Kalispell resident Mike Merchant. “I’m an RV’er, and when I travel around the state I note that the big rigs, for the most part, are owned by seniors. I am really interested in Kalispell developing a national reputation for being a premier destination for seniors.”
Local resident Richard Turbiak expressed disapproval of the project on behalf of the organization Citizens for a Better Flathead.
He said they felt the 50-acre parcel would be better served in its initial urban-residential use; he felt that changing it to mixed-use would only detract from the city’s goal of providing more affordable housing.
Some representatives of the applicants also spoke.
Rob Smith, an engineer working on the project for the Florida developers, said they planned on building a nice park area with a lot of trees and shrubbery along the border of the space to shield the bike trail from the development.
Previous public comment submitted to the city in writing had expressed disapproval of the project, saying they thought it would further denigrate the hometown feel of the city.
The nearby Ashley Meadows Homeowners Association had also submitted feedback asking for certain stipulations put on the application, including restricting the months out of the year that it could operate and asking for measures that would decrease the impact on nearby residential roads. No stipulations regarding months of operation were attached to the Planning Board approval.
The project would be constructed in five phases. The first would consist of 62 spaces. If approved by the City Council, it would be the first RV park to gain approval within Kalispell city limits, according to the staff report.
The project will now go before the Kalispell City Council, where a working session will iron out details before it appears on the agenda at a regular meeting in the coming weeks.
THE BOARD also unanimously voted to recommend that the City Council approve a request from Kalispell-based developer Edge, LLC to build two four-plex housing units at 21 Appleway Drive.
The buildings would be two stories with a 1,920-square-foot footprint each. Plans for the lot include over 8,000 square feet of communal recreation area and space for parking and walkways around the 0.39-acre property.
The proposed lot is on the west end of town, just east of the confluence of the U.S. 93 bypass and U.S. 2. Kalispell Planning Department staff indicated that it fits the prescribed growth policy for that part of town and recommended approval.
It will now move on to the City Council and will likely be on the agenda for a July meeting.
Reporter Peregrine Frissell can be reached at (406) 758-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.