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Whitefish residents react to decision to deny use permit for controversial apartments

Whitefish City Council Apartment Meeting
Posted at 3:33 PM, Jan 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 11:11:51-05

WHITEFISH — A controversial apartment complex proposal was unanimously denied by the Whitefish City Council on Tuesday night.

MTN News spoke with to residents to get their reaction following the long-awaited vote.

Whitefish City Council member Rebecca Norton made a motion to deny a conditional use permit for developer Central Ave WF to build two 18-unit apartment buildings close to the New Muldown Elementary School.

Norton’s motion was unanimously approved by council members, closing the door on a long process which saw dozens of Whitefish residents speak out with a number of concerns.

Along with the apartment buildings, the project included 54 additional parking spaces.

Whitefish resident Bruce Tate says his grandchildren live in the area of the proposed development and he was concerned for their safety with the potential increase of traffic.

“There’s an incredible amount of traffic and I think dangerous speeds that put them and anybody that’s walking small children or small children walking alone at real risk,” said Tate.

Whitefish resident John Fleming, who lives a half a block away from the proposed development, says he felt the need to speak out at the meeting because of the stress he already sees on a daily basis in his neighborhood.

“There’s no crosswalks, there’s no stop signs on my corner, or the corner just west of mine. So, cars come speeding through there. And then during school hours it’s just back to back-to-back-to-back cars, and for me to even cross the street, I have to wait to even cross the street in my own neighborhood,” he told MTN News.

The proposed apartment buildings included seven units of affordable housing under the city’s new Legacy Homes Program, requiring the new development to provide affordable housing for 20% of the project.

Whitefish resident Mariah Joos was pleased with what she believes was a tough decision for council members to make.

“Pleasantly surprised by the council’s decision...they are weighing really big issues for our community, both in terms of the need for affordable housing as well as honoring their duty as elected officials,” she said.

The council's decision came two weeks after members had voted to delay their vote on Jan. 6.