Board to consider commercial airfield near Whitefish

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A request for a conditional-use permit for an airfield that would allow commercial use of an existing helicopter landing pad will be considered by the Flathead County Board of Adjustment during a public hearing on Tuesday.

The request comes from Land Solutions LLC, of Charlo, on behalf of East Glacier Holdings LLC, which lists a Bristol, Tennessee, address on the planning application.. The 19-acre property, located at 5560 U.S. 93 near Whitefish, falls within the Blanchard Lake Zoning District and is zoned SAG-5, suburban agricultural with a highway overlay.

Construction and use of the helicopter pad was granted in 2018, but on the condition that it would only be “for personal use at this time only and would require coming back to the Board of Adjustment for commercial use,” according to a planning staff report.

The applicant is requesting approval to use the approved pad for commercial use in addition to its current non-commercial use. The staff report states the expectation of the applicant is that the helicopter pad would continue to be used for private use, such as “flying passengers to events in Flathead County and to the landowner’s ranch in False Summit.”

The applicant would also like to operate helicopters and other rotorcrafts to take passengers to destinations in Montana and potentially use it for flying drones.

Land Solutions emphasizes the landing pad and airfield would provide a benefit to the public, as it will be made available to the A.L.E.R.T. air ambulance, the U.S. Forest Service and related state and local forestry divisions for firefighting purposes.

According to the application, “all operations and practices will comply with FAA regulations” and flights will avoid Glacier International Airport, Kalispell Airport and all flyways.

The county has received no public comment regarding the requested conditional-use permit.

All decisions made by the Board of Adjustment are considered final actions. The board meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, in the second-floor conference room of the South Campus Building at 40 11th St. W. in Kalispell.

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@daliyinterlake.com

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