Eagle Valley Ranch OK’d by Planning Board

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The Kalispell Planning Board voted to recommend approval of a major new subdivision north of Kalispell during its Jan. 8 meeting.

Spartan Holdings LLC aims to develop 64 acres for Eagle Valley Ranch Phases 1-3 along the U.S. 93 corridor, north of Kalispell North Town Center and south of Ponderosa Estates. The project will include 114 single-family lots and 18 mixed-use parcels in a combination of multifamily units and commercial properties. The blueprint includes 20 acres of open space bordering Ponderosa Estates and a pedestrian trail along a 100-foot buffer zone off the highway.

The original planned-unit development called for 225 single-family lots on 99 acres, but the developers have amended this to focus on the southern two thirds of the property.

The Planning Office had received written concerns from nearby homeowners over the subdivision’s location and density. Planning Board President Chad Graham addressed the fear that the city is encouraging growth to leapfrog vacant areas rather than growing from the interior toward the edges.

“Just because there are vacant lots available in Kalispell, this does not preclude a private owner from elsewhere from developing their lot,” Graham said.

He stressed that developing within the city limits is the most responsible way of providing housing for a growing population.

“If we put a moratorium on growth, it will go into the county,” he said. “It will not stop growth from happening, it will go into the county where there are less stringent codes and standards.”

Graham said fear that his group has an agenda to promote growth north of Kalispell is based on inaccurate perceptions of the board’s role.

“We are not pushing development,” he said. “There are no partnerships between the city of Kalispell and developers.”

Planning Board member George Giavasis said the board is doing what it can to make development downtown easier, including rezoning properties in the core area.

He also praised the Eagle Valley Ranch development for its mix of residential and commercial units.

“With these aspects, this could be a complete neighborhood,” he said. “It could reduce some traffic if people can walk or bike to local neighborhood services.”

Kalispell Planning Director Tom Jentz pointed out that Eagle Valley Ranch is a follow-up to an expired plat proposal for the same property from a decade earlier. The mixed-use community is in keeping with the city’s ultimate goals for growth, he said.

“Here we have a project on smaller lots, a more urban-density scenario,” he said. “With this, ultimately there is less land elsewhere being consumed by development.”

Public comment during the meeting highlighted concerns about access to a traffic light for patrons of the Cowboy Church, whose property is adjacent to the northern edge of Eagle Valley Ranch. It was pointed out that church-goers will be able to drive on subdivision roads to the Rose Crossing traffic light, which will be installed as soon as traffic warrants.

The board also voted to recommend adding a condition of approval requiring the developer provide a 2-acre utility site for a water tank to meet the needs of the subdivision and the long-term growth of the city.

Eagle Valley Ranch is expected to be considered by the Kalispell City Council at its Feb. 4 meeting.

Reporter Heidi Gaiser may be reached at 758-4438 or hgaiser@dailyinterlake.com.

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