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Short-term rental requests draw opposition near Whitefish

by LYNNETTE HINTZE
Daily Inter Lake | November 30, 2021 12:00 AM

The Flathead County Board of Adjustment is being asked to weigh in on two separate short-term rental requests that have drawn opposition from neighbors.

Public hearings on both cases will be held when the board meets Tuesday, Dec. 7. If written opposition from adjacent property owners can’t be resolved by the applicant or by conditions of approval, county zoning rules require the Board of Adjustment to review the request.

Board of Adjustment decisions are considered final.

William and Chris Rosecrans of Dana Point, California, are asking for an after-the-fact administrative conditional-use permit to allow short-term rental housing in a single-family dwelling they own at 174 Morrison Road in a wooded area north of Whitefish in the Rural Whitefish Zoning District, according to the county Planning Office staff report.

Due to the comments received in opposition to the application, it was determined the Board of Adjustment would consider the permit request. The Planning Office received 15 written comments on the Rosecrans request during the comment period that ended Oct. 1, 2021. All comments were opposed to the proposal. The concerns included that the applicant was renting prior to obtaining a permit, noise, safety, fire danger, wildlife/bears, increased traffic, water system and property values.

According to the staff report, the applicant has stated that they have added bear-proof trash cans to mitigate concerns of bears rummaging through the garbage generated by the renters.

Neighbors asserted that since the property was sold this past summer and the owners began renting to vacationers, they’ve already seen the negative impacts in their wooded neighborhood.

“We have observed bonfires during fire season, loud parties and cars parked out on the street, strangers wandering around at our property line, and drones with cameras flying overhead,” one neighbor wrote.

The staff report noted that “upon review of this application, the request to allow for a short-term rental on the subject property is generally not supported by all of the review criteria and the findings of fact,” the report stated, adding that if the Board of Adjustment chooses to approve the permit, conditions of approval should be adopted to ensure compliance and impact mitigation.

THE SECOND public hearing is a request by Christa and William Beveridge of Houston, Texas, for an administrative conditional-use permit to allow short-term rental housing in a single-family home at 825 Cantrell Court, also north of Whitefish and within the Rural Whitefish Zoning District.

Of the nine written comments received regarding the Beveridges’ request, all were opposed to the proposal. The concerns mentioned in the written comments include many of the same issues as the Rosecrans’ request: noise, safety, fire danger, wildlife/bears, increased traffic, water system and property values.

Neighbors also pointed out that the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions in place for the neighborhood prohibit bed and breakfast facilities. The planning staff report, however, noted the county is not responsible for determining compliance with the CCRs.

Once again, the Planning Office noted in its staff report that the request to allow for a short-term rental on the subject property is generally not supported by all of the review criteria and the findings of fact.

The Board of Adjustment meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7 in the second-floor conference room of the South Campus Building, 40 11th St. W., Kalispell. There is also an option to join the meeting via Zoom. Go to the Planning and Zoning Department page of the county website for instructions.

News editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 406-758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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