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City authorizes West Reserve Drive grant application

by BRET ANNE SERBIN
Daily Inter Lake | April 6, 2022 12:00 AM

Kalispell City Council unanimously supported a decision to pursue a grant to improve West Reserve Drive on Monday.

“I’m really excited about this,” said Council member Sandy Carlson. “We really need it.”

Carlson and the rest of council authorized city staff to pursue a $25 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The grant would fund the widening of West Reserve Drive from three to five lanes, including on the Stillwater Bridge. The grant also would go toward adding six feet of landscape boulevards with eight feet of shared use path on the north side of the road and five feet of sidewalk on the south side, and improving Whitefish Stage Road to urban standards.

The project cost is estimated at $33 million. The Montana Department of Transportation would cover the difference between the grant and the total cost, project documents said.

However, Planning Director Jarod Nygren pointed out, “We’re buttoning up exactly … what the scope would be.” City staff explained the design would be up to MDT, not the municipality, if the grant application is approved.

The application is due April 14. Grant recipients will be announced Aug. 12.

In addition to the grant application, council also signed off on a zoning map amendment and preliminary plat approval for Quail Meadows Subdivision.

Quail Meadows, LLC requested rezoning and a preliminary plat for a 10-acre property located at 155 Tronstad Road. The Quail Meadows Subdivision contains 39 single-family lots.

The developer requested a zone change from R-2 (Residential) to R-3 (Residential), which would change the lot sizes and setback requirements for the property.

The current zoning has minimum lot sizes of 10,000 square feet and minimum lot width of 70 feet, with setbacks of 20 feet in the front, 10 feet on the side, 20 feet in the rear, and 20 feet on the side corner, as well as a maximum 35% lot coverage.

The new zoning allows for minimum lot sizes of 6,000 square feet and minimum lot width of 50 feet, with setbacks of 15 feet in the front, five feet on the side, 10 feet in the rear, and 15 feet on the side corner, as well as a maximum 45% lot coverage.

Council supported the project in spite of ample public comment opposing the proposal. During a March 8 Kalispell Planning Board meeting, seven public commenters spoke out against the proposal, and two public commenters again voiced concerns on Monday. Two representatives of the applicant spoke in favor of the development at Monday’s meeting.

Criticisms centered on density, traffic and light pollution from the development.

“We are concerned to keep the quality, to keep the safety and to keep the usability of where we live and also the whole valley,” said neighbor Dan Munzing.

One of the biggest sticking points in the discussion was the proposed intersection reconfiguration at Tronstad Road and U.S. 93. The plan for the development would be to block off the southbound left turn from Tronstad Road onto U.S. 93.

Local residents opposed this configuration, but council supported it.

“Even though it would be a pain for the people that travel south consistently, I would kind of be for not having that [a left turn] be allowed at that intersection until things change to the point where we’re going to do something expensive like an overpass or something like that,” said Council member Sid Daoud. “…I think everything else about this development I’m in favor of.”

Council also set two public hearings for May 2.

One of the public hearings will focus on updates to the city’s construction and design standards.

The other public hearing pertains to a new meter fee for city sewer customers. The city is considering adding a $3 sewer meter rate per month because the Evergreen Water and Sewer District added this charge on Feb. 23.

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