New Zone Adopted Despite Lawsuit

By Beacon Staff

The Flathead County Commission voted 3-0 to adopt a new business zone requested by landowners on U.S. Highway 93, north of Kalispell.

The group, referred to as Noonen et al in zoning applications, asked the commission to amend the Flathead County Zoning Map to change their property from an agricultural designation to the recently adopted B-2HG zone, commonly referred to as the greenbelt zone.

The change affects roughly 79 acres along Highway 93, between Ponderosa Lane and Autumn Court. The landowners spurred the zoning designation’s creation because they wanted a softer alternative to a general business zone, county Planning and Zoning Director BJ Grieve said.

However, local nonprofit Citizens for a Better Flathead opposed the new designation and the map amendments, saying that such a zone would create strip development and hurt local economic centers.

CFBF filed a lawsuit against the county in Flathead County District Court, asking a judge to overturn the commission’s decision to create the designation.

At the Feb. 14 hearing, the commissioners said they read more than 300 protests to the map change, many of which came from addresses outside of the affected area. According to Grieve, the county would have needed to receive 467 protests during the 30-day protest period from landowners in the affected area to overturn the commission’s decision.

Deputy County Attorney Peter Steele said the parties involved in the lawsuit would not act in the new zone until the conclusion of the lawsuit.