Hodgson Road Casino Project Approved

County Board of Adjustment gives green light with conditional-use permit

By Molly Priddy

The Flathead County Board of Adjustment gave the go-ahead to a proposed casino and tavern project planned for the corner of U.S. Highway 93 and Hodgson Road, just south of Whitefish.

Board members gave their unanimous approval to the casino project during the Sept. 6 meeting, despite concerns from neighbors voiced during public comment.

The proposed 4,500-square-foot tavern and casino would be located next to Ohs’ Auto Body on U.S. Highway 93, with the entrance on Hodgson Road. The project’s applicant and landowner is Gary Ohs, through Den Gar Properties, LLC.

Since the property is in the Blanchard Lake Zoning District, the owners needed a conditional-use permit to pursue a tavern. Flathead County Planning Director Mark Mussman said the board’s decision gives the project a green light from the county’s standpoint, but the owner is still waiting on a liquor license.

“If I were the developer, I would wait for that license before I started building,” Mussman said.

Mussman said the project received little attention from the public before its originally scheduled Aug. 2 hearing, but after it was delayed for a month due to a lack of board members present, the planning office heard from more neighbors.

The office received around 19 letters with concerns, Mussman said, largely centered on traffic entering and exiting the highway and the impact a casino might have on the neighborhood.

Planning staff wrote in its report on the project — the findings of which were also unanimously supported by the board — that additional traffic generated by the casino isn’t anticipated to “generate excessive traffic.”

According to the planning staff report, the eventual plan is to tear down the existing buildings on the 3.8-acre property and replace them with the casino building. The casino itself would include 71 seats and four employees at maximum shift, meaning it would require 22 parking spaces. Access to the building would be an approach off of Hodgson Road, to the east side of the building.

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