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Bigfork hotel, Whitefish school before county board of adjustment

by HEIDI DESCH
Daily Inter Lake | May 7, 2024 12:00 AM

A plan for a three-story hotel in Bigfork and a separate request to construct a private school on about 10 acres outside of Whitefish top a packed agenda Tuesday for the Flathead County Board of Adjustment. 

The board has seven items scheduled for consideration during the meeting. The board meets at 6 p.m. in the South Campus Building at 40 11th St. W. in Kalispell.

The Bigfork Hotel Group is proposing to construct The Fort subdivision off Montana 83 including a 65-room hotel. The three-story hotel would be a Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham.

The Bigfork Land Use Committee voted to recommend denial of the conditional use permit for the hotel, raising concerns about sewer infrastructure and increased traffic. The hotel, at full capacity, is expected to generate about 531 vehicle trips per day, according to the permit application. 

A private school for up to 120 students is proposed to be constructed at 1840 East Edgewood Drive outside Whitefish. The plan brought forward by Joseph Vetter is for a “nature-based” school serving grades up through eight. 

The school is planned to be 3,100 square feet in size. A single-family residence on the property would remain. 

The school is expected to have up to 10 employees. The parking lot would include 16 parking spaces, six more than required by zoning. The school is expected to generate 180 vehicle trips per day. 

THE BOARD will also consider two requests for after-the-fact conditional use permits.  

One is from Thomas Morton for a permit to allow for a duplex at 415 Grand Drive in Bigfork.

The second is to allow for a pet grooming business at 4764 Foothill Road, near Bigfork. 

The board is set to vote on three items after holding public hearings on them at last month’s meeting. 

An RV park along Montana 35 and East Cottonwood Drive, east of Kalispell, is expected to include 226 spaces on the 29.32-acre property. The property, currently used for alfalfa and hay production, is undeveloped except for a barn structure slated for removal.

The plan calls for 3.46 acres of open space and recreation area along the western side of the park by the freshwater pond and wetlands on the property. A 5,000-square-feet area of open space will also be required to be designated as a “tot-lot.” 

Main access to the park would be from Montana 35 and emergency access on East Cottonwood. 

The board will consider a request for a recreational facility at 685 Twin Bridges Road, outside of Whitefish. The property is looking to serve as a venue for up to six events per year that may include “weddings, reunions, wedding/baby showers, bachelor/bachelorette gatherings, etc.” with up to 250 attendees.

The property includes a single-family dwelling and a detached garage/barn.

Finally, the board will consider a variance request for 20 Meadow Lake Drive, Kalispell, for the front setback for a detached accessory structure and the permitted lot coverage for the R-3 zone.  

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