Whitefish Christian Academy eyes on-site expansion

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Whitefish Christian Academy plans to add an 11,000-square-foot addition to its existing school and is asking for approval of a conditional-use permit to proceed with the project.

The Whitefish Planning Board will hold a public hearing Thursday, July 18, to consider the proposal. The board’s recommendation will be forwarded to the City Council for another public hearing and final vote on Aug. 5.

Five years ago the school got permission to install two temporary classrooms on the west side of the school at 820 Ashar Avenue. At the time, Whitefish Christian Academy officials intended to rebuild in a new location outside of Whitefish, so the city building official “was comfortable allowing [the temporary classrooms] for up to four years.”

Now school officials have decided expanding on the existing campus is their best option.

The addition would include a two-story classroom, administration space, bathrooms and an auditorium/cafeteria.

According to the Planning Office staff report, there would be revisions to the northern access off East Eighth Street, while the southern access would remain in the same spot. A new parking lot is proposed on the west side of the building, accessing off East Eighth Street, and an expanded parking area is planned to the east of the school, off Ashar Avenue.

The temporary classrooms would be removed.

The school has grown through the years since its first classes were held in the basement of First Baptist Church of Whitefish in 1980. By 1989 two benefactors gifted the school with the Ashar Avenue property and construction began on the current facility. Additional classrooms were added in 1996.

The first ninth-grade class began in 2015 with four students. According to the school’s website, a grade has been added each year, with the first graduating class completing their education this year.

Whitefish Christian Academy enrolls more than 150 students from across the Flathead Valley, the website said.

In other business, the board will hold a public hearing to consider a conditional-use permit from 519 Skyles Place LLC for a 54-unit apartment project in two buildings. This proposal is continued from the June board meeting. The property currently is developed with an auto repair business, commercial storage business and three residential homes.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Thursday at Whitefish City Hall.

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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