The Flathead County Commission voted unanimously on Nov. 29 to adopt the South Whitefish Overlay and zone changes for land south of Whitefish on U.S. Highway 93.
The Nov. 29 vote came after a 30-day protest period, initiated when the commission gave preliminary approval to the proposals in October.
The South Whitefish Overlay is a citizen-initiated proposal that would include land extending about 1.5 miles south of Whitefish on Highway 93, including about a quarter mile east and west of the highway’s right-of-way.
As an overlay, it covers about 490 acres and sets standards for landscaping, buffering, signage, lighting, building design, and parking, similar to those used in the City of Whitefish. It would also require site-plan review for compliance with the overlay requirements, as well as add certain transportation improvements.
The overlay was paired with zone changes for the same area.
The zone changes are text amendments to the Flathead County Zoning Regulations, adjusting away from agricultural and residential zones to more business-friendly zones: About 37 acres of SAG-5 (suburban agriculture) would become B2-A (secondary business); about 79 acres of SAG-5 would become BSD (business service district); and about 145 acres of AG-20 (agricultural) would become SAG-5.
Businesses already operate in this highway corridor despite the agricultural designations with the use of conditional use permits.