Kalispell City Council voted unanimously Monday to annex and zone 207 acres on the south side of the city. But based on the comments of some on the council, the vote may mark the end of an era of rapid expansion for the city.
The project at issue is a development by the Siderius Family Limited Partnership, located along the west side of U.S. Highway 93 south, bordered on the north by Cemetery Road, and on the south by Ashley Meadows Road. Siderius is proposing a commercial center along U.S. 93, and a residential development with upwards of 500 single-family homes, townhouses and apartments along the property’s western half – though a detailed plan has not yet been submitted. A community land trust is expected to provide some lower-priced homes as part of the project. Council also voted unanimously to zone the development’s eastern half B-2, general business, and its western half RA-1, low-density residential apartments.
This latest annexation comes on the heels of a November vote by the council to annex 82 acres opposite the Siderius land, between U.S. 93 and Lower Valley Road, for Gardner Investments, LLC, and zone it industrial commercial. These two annexations extend Kalispell down toward Old School Station, fulfilling a plan to grow the city to the south.
But don’t expect to see any construction any time soon. Because of current economic conditions, development is unlikely to occur for two years or longer, according to a Planning Department memo.
As discussion drew to a close on the 207-acre annexation, Councilman Duane Larson said his yea-vote was fraught with concern that the city’s expansion is placing undue stress on schools and city services at a time when Kalispell is already in a deep budget crunch, and further growth is becoming untenable.
“Our police and fire departments are strapped to the max,” Larson said. “I think we’ve annexed ourselves into the poorhouse, personally, so in the future I’m going to look at these things a lot more carefully.”
Councilman Randy Kenyon agreed.
“We’re going to have to take really careful looks at further annexations in the future to protect what we’ve got,” Kenyon said.