The Kalispell City Council approved the annexation and zoning of a 9.4-acre property on Two Mile Drive between Greenbriar Drive and the Kalispell Bypass, which will be zoned for single-family residential homes.
The Montana Department of Transportation, who acquired the property during the Kalispell Bypass construction, requested the annexation for residential apartment zoning. However, councilors on March 2 narrowly amended the zoning ordinance to reflect single-family residential homes in a 5-4 vote. Following the amendment, the city council approved the residential zoning 6-3.
Mayor Mark Johnson and councilors Ryan Hunter, Sid Daoud and Kyle Waterman opposed the amendment.
Councilors approved the property annexation and zoning amendment following opposition from Greenbriar Drive residents who live adjacent to the property, despite the city’s recommendation for residential apartment zoning to address the Kalispell Growth Policy.
“We do have a vacancy rate of 1 percent and that’s part of the reason why rents are so incredibly high,” Councilor Ryan Hunter said. “We have folks who are really struggling to find places to live because the supply isn’t there.”
But several Greenbriar Drive residents voiced concerns over how multifamily apartment complexes would affect traffic congestion and neighborhood safety, and proposed the property remain single-family residential.
“(We) strongly feel the zoning should be changed to single family residential,” Greenbriar Drive resident Heinz Henke said. “It would be much easier to accept single family homes rather than two to three stories in our backyard. Please give consideration to how you all would feel if this was happening in your backyard.”
Councilor Tim Kluesner supported the residential zoning, stressing the importance of residents’ voice in their neighborhood.
“The public should have a little more stake in what goes in there,” he said. “Especially if it’s in your neighborhood.”
Residents also voiced concerns over the lack of sidewalks and road shoulder on Two Mile Drive, making it unsafe to walk or bike on. Neighbors fear an influx of residents will exacerbate the problem.
However, the city will likely add infrastructure upon annexation to address the increased density, according to city officials.
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