Council Approves Permit for South Kalispell Apartment Complex

After vetting scope of multi-family project, city pushes Airport Road project to architectural review committee

By Dillon Tabish

The Kalispell City Council approved a conditional use permit for a proposed apartment complex in south Kalispell that drew heavy criticism from neighbors.

The council on Jan. 17 voted 8-0, with Mayor Mark Johnson absent, to approve the request for a 55-unit apartment complex along Airport Road. With the approved zoning, the complex could comprise of two two-story 12-plex buildings and a three-story 20-plex, along with nine two-story attached units. The residential units will include 34 two-bedroom units and 21 three-bedroom units.

The decision moves the project forward and allows the developer to submit building plans for review. The Architectural Review Committee, a seven-member citizen advisory committee that meets the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:30 a.m. in City Hall, would review the specific details of any plans.

The city council balked at scrutinizing too many details of the proposed complex despite concerns and criticism from the surrounding neighborhood.

“I think it’s important that we understand what our role is as a legislative body,” city councilor Phil Guiffrida said.

“I don’t want to legislature door color … I’m not an architect.”

The council previously approved the size and scope of the potential project by rezoning the newly annexed 3.8-acre land as RA-1, a residential/apartment zoning district.

The council reviewed the proposal at a previous work session and listened to heavy public input, which centered on density and congestion concerns among neighbors as well as specific details of the possible complex. The developer originally pitched a 96-unit complex but has since scaled down the proposal in light of concerns.

Dave Weber, the local developer, has said the project would fit with the city’s new urban renewal plan, which calls for revitalization efforts in the corridor along Airport Road, where a new elementary school is emerging and the U.S. 93 Alternate Route is fueling other development.

“We really want to be part of the South Kalispell Urban Renewal Project,” Weber said. “We feel this would be a great stepping stone.”

Weber said he has tried to work with neighbors but hasn’t “felt very welcome.”

“We feel a little segregated,” he said.

The council’s conditional use permit calls for a minimum 6-foot-tall landscaped berm to be constructed along the western property boundary between existing homes and the future complex.

The architectural review committee will have discretion when it comes to reviewing the design aesthetics.

“This can be done right through architectural review,” city councilor Tim Kuesner said.

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