Treehouse retreat OK’d near Whitefish

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A treehouse retreat planned near Whitefish drew some neighborhood opposition but won approval Tuesday from the Flathead County Board of Adjustment.

The board granted Darin Robison and Kati O’Toole a conditional-use permit to develop seven wooded acres off Dillon Road with up to three high-end treehouses open to the public for nightly rental. The treehouses will be no larger than 1,000 square feet in size and no more than 35 feet high.

Several conditions were added to the project to address concerns about noise and neighborhood disruption. Guests will be required to stay a minimum of one week at the camp and retreat center, the board decided. The facility also must obtain a public accommodation license from the state and submit a soil disturbance and weed management plan to the county prior to construction.

The board added language to a condition about quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., stipulating noise from the retreat center “shall not be unreasonably disturbing to the neighborhood.”

The treehouses must be built in such a manner as to prohibit guests from peering into neighboring homes.

Ron Buentemeier, who lives next door to the retreat property, said he supported the proposal.

Neighbors David and Kristin Eberhart voiced concerns that the proposed use would be invasive and that it would be difficult for the county to enforce the conditions placed on the project. Increased traffic was another concern.

The conditional-use permit will be good for the duration of the use as a retreat center, but the county planning staff indicated there would be an inspection after a year to ensure permit compliance.

Nature trails that could be used for cross-country skiing in the winter are planned throughout the property. Other amenities include a tepee lounge and meditation room and a rock sauna.


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

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