Updated Trails Plan ready for review

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An updated version of the Flathead County Trails Plan is the focus of a public hearing Wednesday before the Flathead County Planning Board.

The updated plan would develop a funding plan for existing trail maintenance and establish a framework for additional trail development. The original Trails Plan was adopted in 2010, and became part of the Flathead Valley Growth Policy.

The county Parks and Recreation Department is currently responsible for maintaining nearly 34 miles of paved paths, including the Rails to Trails network between Kila and Somers and the Gateway to Glacier trail system connecting Hungry Horse and West Glacier. It also maintains 15 miles of unpaved gravel and natural trails.

The update recommends continuing a moratorium on new trail construction “until a sustainable funding mechanism” is in place to maintain all existing and proposed trails.” In addition to allocating funding to the Parks and Road departments, the update suggests the county consider a comprehensive trail evaluation and trail pavement preservation projects in future capital improvement plans. It also requires a monetary commitment from community groups with an interest in developing and maintaining trails.

In February 2019, the updated plan was tabled by the Parks and Recreation Board due to concerns over costs to the county, despite public comments almost entirely in favor of the plan.

In other business, the Planning Board will hold hearings and take public comment to consider a couple of requests from Calhoon Enterprises LLC that would pave the way for a nine-lot subdivision on the corner of Whitefish Stage and Tronstad roads. The developer is requesting a zone change from SAG-10, suburban agricultural with a 10-acre minimum lot size, to SAG-5, suburban agricultural with a 5-acre minimum lot size, for the 32.5-acre property located within the Highway 93 North Zoning District.

Calhoon Enterprises also is asking for preliminary plat approval of Whitefish Stage Estates, a proposal that would created eight 1.5-acre lots and a ninth lot with over 20 acres of open space on the 32.5-acre parcel. The applicant is proposing individual and shared wells and septic systems and primary access will be from a new internal subdivision road via Whitefish Stage and Tronstad Road.

Also within the Highway 93 North Zoning District, 406 Engineering, on behalf of David A. and Christie J. Jolly and William and Cheryl Ashe, is asking for a zone change on two parcels encompassing 20.5 acres at 1801 and 1870 Pine Grove Lane, from SAG-10 to SAG-5 zoning.

The board meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the second-floor conference room of the South Campus Building, 40 11th St. W. in Kalispell

Reporter Colin Gaiser may be reached at 758-4439 or cgaiser@dailyinterlake.com.

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