On The Agenda: Wolford Makes His Pitch

By Beacon Staff

Kalispell City Council will take up the proposal tonight by Wolford Development Montana to develop a 485-acre commercial and residential development, the Glacier Town Center. The council meets tonight at 7 p.m. at City Hall for its regular meeting, and will hear the developer’s presentation afterward in a work session at which no votes are allowed.

Sentiment by most city officials thus far has been fairly positive of the Wolford proposal. The major hurdle for the developer deals with the need for stoplights on U.S 93, which conflicts with Kalispell’s draft transportation plan. Glacier Town Center would go up between U.S. 93 North and Whitefish Stage Road, bordered by West Reserve Drive to the south. Its 191-acre first phase consists of a “lifestyle center,” essentially an outdoor shopping mall located off of U.S. 93.

The developer’s plan, and state Department of Transportation recommendations call for call for a traffic light at Rose Crossing, an intersection at the main entrance to the shopping center that would not permit left turns onto U.S. 93, and a stoplight at the development’s southernmost intersection. The planning board and city has objected to those added stoplights because the proposed Kalispell bypass, set for construction in upcoming years, would reconnect with U.S. 93 at West Reserve, and could end up depositing fast-moving traffic right into those new lights – delaying smooth traffic flow between north Kalispell and Whitefish.

In a recent planning board meeting, with only six members present, the board was deadlocked in its votes on these crucial traffic issues, coming down 3-3. The issue is essentially punted to the city council, which will likely begin taking it up in earnest in January. Also, the planning board wants six northern access routes for the project, while the developer is pushing for four – though this minor issue appears unlikely to be a big problem.

Check out our previous story on the traffic issues with Glacier Town Center here, and a wrap-up of the planning board’s Dec. 11 votes here. Stay tuned for a report on tonight’s work session after it happens.

On the council’s formal agenda tonight, it will recommend zoning and plans for the Willow Creek subdivision, a 165-acre residential development located on the north side of Foys Lake Road. Previous plans for the development were repeatedly objected to by the council for being too dense. The development passed its first vote Dec. 3 on a 7-2 vote.

Council will also honor real estate agent Chris Fraser with a community life saving award, and confirm police officer Karen Webster.