WHITEFISH — The fate of a major housing project at the base of Big Mountain Road will be answered Monday by the Whitefish City Council.
The proposed Mountain Gateway development sits on 32.7 acres at the intersection of Big Mountain Road and East Lakeshore Drive.
The request by Arim Mountain Gateway includes plans to develop 318 residential units including 270 rental apartments, 36 townhouses and 12 condos. The development proposal includes 8.8 acres on the east side of the project to be set aside for 48 units of permanent affordable housing.
“We originally did not include the land donation but after hearing concerns at planning board meetings we kind of put our heads together and thought maybe this is something more we can do,” Mountain Gateway Lead Developer James Barnett told MTN News.
Barnett said if the project is approved, 1.5 acres of land will be donated to the City of Whitefish for a future fire station with construction delayed until funding is identified. He says the project also includes plans to install a roundabout at the intersection of East Lakeshore Drive and Big Mountain Road.
Opponents of the project through public comment said the development will increase traffic problems including gridlock at the future roundabout leading to public safety concerns if a wildfire develops, among other reasons. Barnett believes the roundabout will help alleviate traffic at the intersection.
“How our project would contribute to traffic that’s been a concern for a lot of people, but I look at it as it could actually help with the traffic problem, a lot of people that would live at this location would be either driving into town in the morning and home in the evening for work which is opposite of the heavy traffic flow,” said Barnett.
In November, The Whitefish Planning Board voted 3-1 to deny the developer’s request for construction of the project.
The Whitefish City Council will have a final vote on the project during their scheduled council meeting Monday night at 7 p.m.