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Residents weigh in on proposed Kalispell zoning change

KM Ranch Rd Planning Meeting
Posted at 4:05 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 18:10:26-04

KALISPELL - The Flathead County Planning Board meeting for a controversial zone change on KM Ranch Road was tabled on Wednesday night.

The first meeting was postponed as more people wanted to attend, and then the developer and engineer requested the issue not be discussed at the July meeting.

MTN News attended the latest meeting to hear what residents had to say.

“I am strongly opposed to this development and I recognize that change is inevitable but this is the wrong development. This is not, not in my backyard. This is about the wrong development for the wrong reason," said Friends for Responsible Rural Growth member Julie Rommel.

The zone change for just over 155 acres on KM Ranch Road and US Highway 93 — between Kalispell and Whitefish, — was brought on by a Canadian-owned development company called Montarise.

“In a rapidly growing community like Flathead County, there are a variety of interests that need to be expressed. And it is a considerable challenge to balance those of the existing community, while also recognizing the need for new families," said Montarise Development LLC Vice President Glenn Edwards.

If passed, the current Suburban Agriculture zoning would change to Suburban residential — meaning 150 homes could be developed on the 155 acres, instead of 31.

“This development affects every single person in the Flathead Valley. This is a development that does not belong in rural Flathead Valley," said Rommel.

Over 50 people opposed the change and even more submitted written comments. The main concerns were driving safety, water and sewer, strain on emergency resources, and loss of rural Montana lifestyle.

“To negate the character and customs of all of us for one developer that seeks a zoning change incompatible with existing uses is just wrong. Growth is inevitable," one attendee stated. "But it's incumbent upon you folks to make sure that we don't lose ourselves while that growth occurs," said a speaker in opposition of the zoning change.

The decision is tabled until next month giving the board more time to review the overwhelming amount of written responses and allow for more public comment.

“We do not have the infrastructure in this county to keep on building the priority should be for the residents and already live here. I hope you deny this subdivision," said another speaker at Wednesday's meeting.