Controversial Subdivision Approved

By Beacon Staff

In a touchy atmosphere at Whitefish City Hall, the city council approved the development of two townhouses near Whitefish Lake Golf Course after the planning board unanimously denied it.

The townhouses, which are split up into two units each to provide for four total living units, are located on Ramsey Avenue. Fred Grant, a Ramsey Ave. resident, told the council he proposed a similar four-lot development in the same area in 2003. The city denied his proposal, he said, because of access and substandard road concerns, which were also concerns for the new development. Michael Collins, the new proposal’s developer, said he would pay to widen the roads if necessary. Currently Fraser Avenue, one of the two access streets to the subdivision, is about 13 feet wide and the city now asks for streets through subdivisions to be 28 feet wide.

Collins had his wife and attorney present, as well as Bob Horne, Whitefish’s former city planner. Collins hired Horne to help him sort through planning details.

Grant and his attorney, who was also at the meeting, argued that it’s not fair to allow Collins’ project when Grant’s was squashed, especially since, as Grant said, most of the same city officials who shot down his project still are in office. Nikki Bond of the planning department said no evidence exists that Grant was ever denied. Another resident who works out of state flew from California to protest the subdivision.

The council attached two motions before the proposal was approved: one motion for Collins to give up 10 feet of right-of-way on the side of street if necessary and another to widen the driveway. It took more than an hour of public comment and council deliberation to reach a conclusion.

The council also passed the revised Capital Improvements Plan, which lays out a rough framework for spending on capital facilities for the next 25 years and a more detailed plan for the next five years. The plan calls for $43.8 million in expenditures over the next five years, including hefty sums toward wastewater treatment and streets.