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Planning board takes up large development on KM Ranch Road

by HEIDI DESCH
Daily Inter Lake | September 7, 2022 12:00 AM

A proposal that could result in housing and commercial development, including an RV park, on KM Ranch Road is headed to the Flathead County Planning Board on Wednesday.

Montarise Developments, LLC is requesting a zone change for three parcels of land located on the north side of KM Ranch Road just north of the county landfill. The request is to change the zoning from SAG-5 suburban agricultural to R-1 suburban residential, which would reduce the minimum lot size from 5 acres to 1 acre.

The total acreage is about 155 acres. The property is undeveloped and forested.

The planning board meets at 6 p.m. in the Expo Building at the Flathead County Fairgrounds, 265 N. Meridian Road, Kalispell.

The request had been set first in June for discussion, but due to the crowd size in attendance was delayed. Then in July, the developer behind the project requested the matter be pushed to September.

APEC Engineering, representing Montarise, wrote in the application to the county that increased demand for housing has redefined the local housing market and by increasing the housing inventory that can serve to fulfill the demand.

Montarise is designed to provide “diverse housing offerings, including multi-family, smaller cottages, midsized homes, and estate homes.”

A nonprofit organization called Friends for Responsible Rural Growth has launched a campaign against the project, citing concerns with increased traffic on the road, impacts on public safety resources and schools with increases in population growth as a result.

“I recognize growth is inevitable, but how much more high-density housing (that’s not affordable) do we want that will attract more people and not house the ones we already have?” wrote Julie Rommel, a member of the group, in an editorial to the Daily Inter Lake.

Under current zoning, the Montarise property could be developed with about 30 lots, but following the zone change that would move to about 150 lots.

While only the zone change is up for consideration, Montarise has submitted applications to the county for a preliminary plat and planned unit development also. But those applications are incomplete and therefore have not been scheduled yet to go before the planning board.

The applications do provide a picture of what Montarise is likely planning for the property. They show that 20 acres of the property would be slated for commercial use and the remaining 135 acres for 268 housing units. The documents say that about 44 acres would be set aside for open space and parks.

Development would be planned to take place in three phases.

For the residential portion, documents describe 92 single-family units and 176 multi-family units.

For the three commercial lots, one would be set aside for a church or school, another for a business park and the third would be for a 73-unit RV park located along U.S. 93.

The proposal says the plan is to create pocket neighborhoods by clustering similar housing types together. The larger lots would be located with more privacy at the forested/buffered perimeter, whereas the smaller lots would be located in the interior.

“The concept is used to create a more interactive series of sub-neighborhoods where the smaller clustering of homes of a similar type shares common paths and open space, which facilitates more interaction between these smaller groups of neighbors,” the application notes.

Primary access to the subdivision would be from U.S. 93 at three locations. There are seven roads planned within the subdivision.

The mixed-use within the subdivision is estimated to generate about 3,000 daily trips.

The developer is proposing community water and sewer systems and onsite stormwater drainage.

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