Flathead County is proposing to open up the Gateway Entry to Whitefish to immediate and future commercial development
A strip of properties a mile and a half long by a quarter mile wide along both sides of Highway 93, this zoning will set a precedent for expanding commercial-strip development along highway corridors in the Flathead.
It’s time to speak up and insist on a better plan for this highway gateway entrance to the City of Whitefish and for highway corridors throughout the Flathead!
The proposed zoning, known as the Highway 93 South Whitefish Corridor Plan and Zoning Amendment, is being pushed forward by the County Planning Board for a group of landowners who want to either sell or develop their property along the corridor for more commercial uses. As proposed, the plan calls for over 130 acres of commercial development, and down-zoning another 145 acres from the current zoning of 20 acre-agricultural zoning to 5-acre suburban-agricultural zoning – making this area easier to convert to future commercial uses.
The area proposed for re-zoning exceeds the commercial property development on Highway 93 in north Kalispell, which spans from the Flathead Valley Community College to the intersection of Hwy 93 & Reserve on both sides of the highway, and houses Costco, Walmart, Home Depot, Target, Lowes, etc. The main commercial core area of downtown Whitefish covers only approximately 35 acres.
The City of Whitefish is strongly opposing this massive expansion of commercial development just outside its city limits as harmful and unneeded at this time. The City is calling on the County to work with them to first put in place a transportation plan for this corridor to avoid the potential traffic nightmare that expanded development in this area will bring, and to conduct a build-out analysis showing the need or impacts of such commercial expansion, as it is in conflict with all current city plans.
Visit our website or look for our email alert for links to the proposed plan, as well as our comments and those of the City of Whitefish: www.Flatheadcitizens.org. Use the attached card to mail comments.
Thank you for standing up and speaking out for the future of this Great Place!
The Hwy 93 South Whitefish Corridor Plan and Zoning Amendment Should Be Denied Because:
• The proposed amendment is not supported by any city planning documents. The City of Whitefish has submitted comments stating that it believes these zone changes will be detrimental to the demonstrated economic vitality of the city’s business sector. Current city plans and policies call for infill and strongly discourage additional patterns of commercial, office, light industrial, and lodging SPRAWL along the Highway 93 southern entrance to Whitefish.
• The proposed standards for setbacks of businesses and signs along this corridor is a mere five feet from the highway – a standard that might work in a central downtown area, but not on a rural highway corridor that serves as a gateway to the City of Whitefish. In contrast, City of Kalispell gateway standards along Hwy 93 North call for a 20ft landscaped building setback where traffic speeds are at 35mph, a 40ft landscaped building setback at 36-45mph, and 100-150 ft landscaped building setback at 45mph and above.
• Owning property along Highway Corridors in the Flathead is not justification for property owners outside of the city limits to band together and demand non-agricultural zoning for their property so they can turn their property into what they see as a more lucrative personal benefit for themselves. Planning is and should be about benefiting the whole community not small groups of individuals seeking personal benefit.
• The added traffic and infrastructure impacts and costs for new development outside of city limits at this time and in this area are not supported by city facility plans and are not a cost effective use of city, county, or state tax dollars when the city has much more cost effective options for infill development within city limits.
County Planning Office documents: