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Planning board considers minor change to work camp regs

by HEIDI DESCH
Daily Inter Lake | May 11, 2022 12:00 AM

The Flathead County Planning Board on Wednesday will consider a change aimed at resolving a conflict in the timeline for approving work camps in the West Glacier area.

Work camps are designed for the housing of seasonal employees. The Canyon Area Land Use Regulatory System allows for such camps consisting of "camping spaces, trailer parking spaces, mobile, modular or other permanent structures,"

The amendment clarifies the review process for work camps because CALURS currently requires that a minor land use review and evaluation be completed in 30 days or the use is automatically approved.

However, the criteria for a work camp review requires not less than 15 calendar days for public comment to be submitted. Also within 10 working days of the end of the comment period, a written determination must be mailed to the applicant, approving or denying the permit.

Prior to the 15-day comment period, staff is required to obtain a list of adjacent property owners from the GIS department, which can take over a week to generate, the planning staff notes.

By the time all the steps are completed for a minor land use review, the 30-day period would be over and the work camp automatically approved because of the failure to respond, planning staff notes.

Thus the change clarifies that the regulations around work camps take precedence.

Work camps were added to CALURS last year after employers said they were struggling to find suitable housing for workers.

ALSO ON the agenda, the planning board will consider several text amendments to the subdivision regulations. Many of the changes are the result of the edits made to state statute during the 2021 legislative session; including the addition of the expedited review and changes to requirements for final plat submittal.

Other changes involve clearing up some language that the planning department says has caused confusion for developers and staff in the past, including moving the timeline for administrative approval to the timeline section, removing a few words from the parkland section and clarifying language.

The county planning board meets at 6 p.m. on the second floor conference room of the South Campus Building at 40 11th St. W. in Kalispell. Recommendations from the planning board regarding the requests are forwarded to the Flathead County Commissioners for final consideration.

Features Editor Heidi Desch may be reached at 758-4421 or hdesch@dailyinterlake.com.