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Kalispell City Council discusses updated review fees, design standards

by BRET ANNE SERBIN
Daily Inter Lake | March 31, 2022 12:00 AM

Kalispell City Council conducted a comprehensive review of its construction and design standards during a work session Monday evening.

City staff discussed changes to review fees for new developments, including a new fee for a second review assessed to projects that remain unfinished 18 months after approval. The second review fee costs half of the initial review fee.

Citing the construction climate, city councilors decided to increase the time between approval and completion to 36 months.

Council also added back a stipulation for a new review fee when design standards change. That provision was originally edited out by city staff.

The updated design standards require $1,000 to review a single lot commercial building, $2,000 to review a multi-lot commercial building, $1,000 to review a residential subdivision with two to five lots and $2,000 to review a residential subdivision with more than five lots.

City Engineer Keith Haskins said the municipality is adopting new review software. The review fees will go toward that technology, he said.

Another significant change to the design standards concerns record drawings, which the city has had trouble securing from developers. Council discussed two options to incentivize developers to submit these drawings, eventually deciding upon a scale of reimbursable deposits.

Developers will be required to deposit $5,000 for projects with no public utility mains, $10,000 for projects with less than 1,000 linear feet of utility mains and $15,000 for projects with more than 1,000 linear feet of utility mains, plus $5,000 for every additional 2,000 linear feet of main.

Developers who submit record drawings within 60 days of receiving final plat approval or certification of occupancy will be reimbursed their full deposit. Those who submit their drawings within 90 days will get half of their deposit reimbursed. Developers who fail to submit the documentation will forfeit their deposit, which will go toward covering the cost to complete the drawings.

Developers will also be required to submit construction drawings upon approval of a project, because Public Works crews struggle to locate utility features without these drawings.

Council also discussed street widths put forth by the new Move 2040 Kalispell Transportation Plan.

Council Member Ryan Hunter asked about the 48-foot width requirement for major collector streets, established to accommodate parking, bike lanes and turn lanes. Hunter urged council to consider a narrower width to create roads that are friendlier to pedestrians and to encourage slower vehicle speeds.

Council will have an opportunity to revise the details of the new standards as it goes through the process to approve them. First, council will need to pass a resolution of intent to revise the standards, then it will seek public comment for 30 days from engineers and developers. Finally, it will vote to adopt the updates.

At the end of Monday’s meeting, Hunter asked for a work session about short-term rentals. He reported hearing about a recent surge in these units. Mayor Mark Johnson opted to secure information from Planning Director Jarod Nygren regarding short-term rental data before holding a work session.

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