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C-Falls Planning Board rejects apartment project

by CHRIS PETERSON
Hungry Horse News | February 23, 2021 12:00 AM

The Columbia Falls City-County Planning Board has recommended denial of a 36-unit apartment complex on Meadow Lake Boulevard proposed by developer Toby Gilchrist of Whitefish and landowner Thomas Hyon Su of Washington.

The complex requires a zone change from single-family residential to multifamily residential and a conditional-use permit for the development.

Several neighbors objected to the development, with worries about traffic and changes to the character of the neighborhood, as the development would be surrounded by single-family homes in a wooded setting.

The development would require cutting down most of the trees on the lot.

The Planning Board also had concerns with access to and from the development.

As designed, the complex would be built on 2.25 acres across the road from the Flathead County green box garbage collection site on Meadow Lake Boulevard.

It would two buildings, 18 units each and the design is being completed by Montana Creative of Whitefish, which has designed several new buildings in downtown Columbia Falls for developer Mick Ruis, including a new residential-commercial complex that will go in the city square later this spring.

The zone change complies with the city’s growth policy.

The proposal calls for extending city water lines to the site up Meadow Lake Boulevard. A sewer main already runs near the property that serves Meadow Lake Resort.

The complex would include a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. The developer will also provide internal sidewalks and a sidewalk along Meadow Lake Boulevard.

The Columbia Falls City Council has the final say in the matter, though it rarely goes against Planning Board recommendations. The council was supposed to take up the application at its first meeting in March, but that will be delayed, as the developer pulled the application after the planning board’s decision, City Manager Susan Nicosia said.