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Kalispell again considers expanded use of accessory dwellings

by BRET ANNE SERBIN
Daily Inter Lake | July 19, 2021 12:00 AM

A lengthy saga revolving around accessory dwelling units in Kalispell could reach a conclusion during the Kalispell City Council's meeting Monday evening.

The council is set to vote on an ordinance that would allow accessory dwellings in various city residential zones.

The city's regulations for secondary dwelling units on properties have been on a roller coaster ride since September 2020 as the council has see-sawed between support for loosening restrictions and reticence to officially approve their expansion.

Last fall, council member Ryan Hunter brought up the idea of allowing for expanded accessory dwellings. The idea went through numerous discussions, and an ordinance to expand the zones gained enough support to pass a first reading earlier this year.

Then, in February, three council members who initially voted in favor of the ordinance withdrew their support. The discussion was postponed, and the ordinance died on the table.

But the debate didn't end there. The council revived the conversation in two work sessions earlier this summer, and the first reading of a new ordinance is set for Monday.

If it passes, the current iteration of the ordinance would allow for accessory dwellings with an administrative conditional-use permit, which requires applicants to notify neighbors about their development plans, in the RA-1, RA-2, R-4, R-5 and H-1 zones.

Two parking spots would be required per unit, the same number currently required in those zones.

The units would be limited to 1,000 square feet of gross floor area living space.

They would not, however, carry any stipulation against use as short-term housing, such as through Airbnb or VRBO.

IN OTHER business, the council will hold its second reading of an ordinance that would incorporate downtown historic design standards into the city code.

The standards, developed with contractor A&E Design, give guidance to downtown building owners about features on building facades, like materials, colors and signage. They are intended to preserve the historic quality of Kalispell's downtown structures.

On July 6, the council approved the first reading of the ordinance to implement the proposed standards. If the second reading passes on Monday, the standards will be formally part of the city code.

The meeting will be open to the public. It will start at 7 p.m. in the Kalispell City Chambers, 201 First Ave. E.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at 406-758-4459 or bserbin@dailyinterlake.com.