Whitefish proposes to double water impact fees

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Parking, wastewater plant master plan dominate work session

By LYNNETTE HINTZE

Daily Inter Lake

The Whitefish City Council tonight will consider a resolution that would increase water impact fees by close to $2,000 per dwelling unit.

Currently the city cannot meet water capacity requirements year-round, so the Montana Department of Environmental Quality has prohibited additional water extensions, subdivisions and Municipal Facilities Exclusion applications.

The city is facing a significant water treatment plant expansion, among other items, to address the state directive, according to City Manager Adam Hammatt’s report to the council.

“While a portion of the water treatment plant expansion is needed due to demand from current users, the remaining capacity available for new development can be funded through impact fees,” Hammatt noted in his report. “A portion of the project cost has been included in the determination of the maximum defensible amount that the city can charge.”

Increasing the water impact fee would not only contribute to the plant expansion but also reduce the amount of financing needed through the State Revolving Loan Program, the report notes.

The proposed water impact fee increase would jump the impact fee from its current $2,241 to the maximum allowed, $4,119.

The council will hold a public hearing before voting on the proposed increase to water impact fees.

During a work session that begins at 5:30 p.m., the council will take on a couple of big city issues — master planning for the sewer treatment plant property and downtown parking.

One of the council’s stated goals has been to create a master plan for an 88-acre city-owned tract along Monegan Road, the current site of the wastewater treatment plant and the Parks and Recreation maintenance shop.

The new wastewater plant will occupy about 3.1 acres on the west side of the property, with an 8.1-acre sludge drying area to the north. The parks building is on about 4 acres in the northeast corner of the property, which has room for expansion.

The city owns property on both sides of the Whitefish River east of Greenwood Drive, and this location is considered the most feasible for a future new bridge at this point, according to a memorandum to the council from Planning Director Dave Taylor. A bridge and extension of Greenwood Drive to connect with Monegan Road is illustrated on the wastewater treatment site plan.

A new trailhead with parking also is proposed for the south end of the property to provide additional access to the river.

There are about 10 acres fronting Monegan that could be used to develop workforce housing,the memo noted. A composting facility and tree nursery also are mentioned as possible uses.

Dixon Resources returns to Whitefish today and Tuesday for follow-up meetings with city staff about the firm’s initial findings regarding downtown parking challenges.

The council will use the work session to talk about parking struggles, and the public is welcome to attend. A final parking action plan with short- and long-term recommendations will be presented to the planning board and council for adoption in late summer.

The work session on the wastewater treatment plant property runs from 5:30 to 6 p.m. Parking is the focus from 6 to 7 p.m. Public comments will be taken for both discussions. The regular council meeting begins at 7:10 p.m. All sessions will be held at Whitefish City Hall.

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

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