Evergreen Zone Change to Move Forward

By Beacon Staff

The Flathead County Commission gave the county planning department permission to move forward with processing a publicly initiated zone change in Evergreen that, if approved, would provide for more uses along commercial corridor.

Commissioners Pam Holmquist and Gary Krueger gave planning Director BJ Grieve the green light to use county resources in processing the request from the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce.

The zoning request would create an enterprise zone in the commercial corridor in Evergreen, which is already zoned B-2 and B-3, which are business zones.

The enterprise zone is part of the I-1 and I-H zoning definition, and would allow for “light assembly and manufacturing, fabrication and processing, repairing, packing, storage facilities, warehousing and distribution of products and equipment provided that such uses do not produce objectionable impacts beyond the lot lines and do not involve materials that are explosive, hazardous or toxic.”

Since the change would be classified as an interim zone, it would only last for a year, with the possibility of another year extension.

The chamber initially requested the zone change in June, after the Flathead County Planning Board asked for public input on potential adjustments to the Flathead County Zoning Regulations.

The chamber noted that the current retail-focused zoning put in place 25 years ago might prevent the reuse of existing structures along the commercial corridor. The temporary status of the zone could be used as a test to see if changes manifest while it is in place, the planning board reasoned at a July workshop, and if the structures are used for business other than retail, it would indicate that zoning is restricting economic growth.

If the change has economic impact, then there will need to be a discussion about a permanent fix.

The Evergreen Chamber of Commerce will be responsible for community outreach regarding the enterprise zone, Grieve told the commission, and said there would be a Nov. 19 public meeting to discuss it before a December meeting back at the commissioners’ chambers.

The commissioners expressed support for such a zone change. Krueger said more business in Evergreen would be good for the school district, the current businesses and the county as a whole.

“I think this is very important for the Evergreen area,” Krueger said.

“I favor this,” Holmquist said of the zone change. “I think it will hopefully be a good thing for Evergreen.”

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