Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Major housing development proposed near Columbia Falls

Hungry Horse News | June 25, 2022 12:00 AM

A developer is proposing a major subdivision on farmland east of the Flathead River and just outside Columbia Falls.

James Barnett, on behalf of Flathead Mountain River LLC, is requesting a Planned Unit Development on the Loffler subdivision, the open farm fields along River Road. The project consists of 65 attached single family row houses, 390 apartment units and 10 row house units dedicated to the Northwest Montana Community Land Trust.

The total unit count is 455 units on 49.1 acres gross for a density of 9.2 units per acre. The applicant is proposing 21.5 acres (43%) of the site as park and open space, according to the initial application. The interior roads would be private, but would be open to the public.

With the project, the applicants are proposing to move River Road further east on Highway 2 and, if supported by the Montana Department of Transportation, Barnett would install a traffic signal at Highway 2 and River Road.

The property was listed for sale for $8 million.

The developers also have plans to extend city sewer and water down Highway 2 and across the Flathead River — a move that could result in even more future development of the area.

The developers are asking for a zone change. It is currently zoned CR-3 (One Family Residential) and the applicant is proposing CR-4 (Urban Residential).

They are also seeking zoning deviations. One would allow an increase in height of 10 feet allowing a portion of the apartment buildings to approach 45 feet in height. A second deviation would reduce the parking requirement from two spaces per unit to 1.5 spaces.

The developer proposed a similar project at the base of Big Mountain. That proposal included 318 residential units on 32.7 acres at the intersection of Big Mountain Road and East Lakeshore Drive.

The Whitefish City Council ultimately rejected the proposal.

The Columbia Falls City-County planning board will take up the application at its Tuesday, July 12 meeting at city hall at 6:30 p.m.

Interested persons are allowed to attend the hearing in person or via Zoom.

Persons are encouraged to submit written comments prior to the meeting. Written comments carry the same weight as public testimony given during the hearing. Written comments may be sent to Columbia Falls City Hall, Attention: Barb Staaland, City Clerk, 130 6th Street West, Room A, Columbia Falls, MT 59912 or via email: staalandb@ cityofcolumbiafalls.com.

For more information on the proposed Planned Unit Development, call Eric Mulcahy, Columbia Falls City Planner at 755-6481. To obtain the ZOOM meeting registration, contact City Clerk Barb Staaland via email or by calling 892-4391 no later than 5:30 p.m. the day of the meeting.