Valley Ranch Subdivision Tabled

By Beacon Staff

Five citizens told Kalispell City Council Monday night they opposed the Valley Ranch subdivision proposal for a host of reasons: its density, the traffic impact, the old growth Ponderosa pine trees that would have to be cut down, and the lack of storm water drainage planning.

Whether the citizens’ comments had the intended effect or council members had their minds made up already, the results were the same. By a five to four vote, the council indefinitely tabled plans to annex the land for Valley Ranch.

Recommended unanimously by the City Planning Board, Gateway Properties Inc. requested the city to annex 81 acres located about one and a half miles north of the intersection of U.S. Highway 93 and West Reserve Drive.

Because the annexation failed, the decision of whether to zone the land – for 204 residential lots, 29 townhouse lots, an assisted living facility and 15 acres of open space and parkland – became moot.

Also at issue was how the road plans for the Valley Ranch development would interact with the massive shopping complex which is expected to be proposed by James “Bucky” Wolford in coming weeks.

Councilman Bob Hafferman, before moving to table the proposal indefinitely, described his struggle with the decision.

“This development, as presented, appears to me to decrease the quality of life for a number of people, but we also must balance it with what we need to do to accommodate growth,” Hafferman said. “That’s the dichotomy that we all face from time to time.”

Hafferman recommended the developers meet with the homeowners’ association for the nearby Ponderosa Estates development “to get at least some commonality.”

Mayor Pam Kennedy said the council will re-examine the Valley Ranch proposal at its June 11 workshop.

Shortly after the meeting, the council continued work on the Kalispell City Budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, focusing on the Fire Department.

Perhaps the biggest dilemma in its budget considerations that the council faces is the dire need for a new ladder fire truck and the lack of funds to buy a new one. Fire Chief Randy Brodehl described how Kalispell’s current ladder truck is 30 years old, breaks down often, and can only reach a height of 85 feet. The height of the city’s buildings requires that the ladder truck reach 105 feet.

New ladder trucks cost about $700,000, but the city only has about $120,000 in fire impact fees to contribute toward the purchase. The council discussed how to raise the additional funds, either through a loan or a bond, but took no action.

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