The Kalispell City Council unanimously approved a conditional use permit for a four-building, 96-unit multi-family residential development on Hutton Ranch Road, along with the plat approvals for two more development projects in north Kalispell at the Aug. 4 council meeting.
The current development plan includes 72 two-bedroom and 24 one-bedroom units, which could extend into the Hutton Ranch parking area. The conditional use permit requires a 500-square-foot area for recreation amenities, which could potentially include a basketball court, gazebo, barbecue or playground equipment with the potential for an indoor community room.
“I like that we have more multifamily coming in and I like the fact that we’re incorporating housing in the Hutton Ranch area,” Councilor Ryan Hunter said.
While Hunter supports the project, he voiced concern about potential excessive parking in the area and suggested adding “pedestrian connectivity” with the adjoining landowner.
A preliminary plat for a separate development at Stillwater Road and Four Mile Drive was unanimously approved, which could include 83 single-family units and 192 multi-family units with 2.5 acres of neighborhood commercial area as part of the Kalispell Growth Policy. The development area was also approved for rezoning as a mixed-use area.
In the proposal, there would be more than 4 acres of parks, two clubhouses and paths that would eventually connect to the bicycle path adjacent to the Kalispell Bypass.
A final plat and subdivision improvement agreement was unanimously approved for the Kalispell North Town Center Phase 3, which would include 16 commercial lots and a common area on 26 acres. The preliminary plat was approved in April.
The council also adopted an ordinance that would shift speed limit setting within city limits to the state.
Additionally, Flathead City-County Health Officer Tamalee St. James Robinson updated the council on the current COVID-19 pandemic in Flathead County.
She noted that many COVID outbreaks were happening at weddings and among restaurant employees, most of which are in the age range of 20-35.
In restaurants with COVID-positive employees, the health department conducts an investigation and does contact tracing and recommends a deep clean, but officials have not shut down any restaurants at this point.
“Contrary to what I’ve seen in places, we have not shut down anything,” Robinson said. “When the restaurant has several workers, we contact them and take the workers out who have been in quarantine and we recommend they do a deep cleaning of the restaurant. So any restaurant that’s closed down for a deep cleaning, they’ve done that on their own accord.”
When community members are not compliant with the statewide mask mandate, Robinson says complaints can be sent to the health department and if a business has more than six complaints, the county attorney can decide whether to prosecute the business.
The health department has also increased its staff, adding several employees to help with contact tracing and monitoring. Several nurses and medical professionals have also been hired to conduct case investigations.
“We have a bank of just people who answer the phone calls,” Robinson said. “We’re getting about 100 calls a day just from the worried or people with questions about testing.”
The health department is also working with public school officials to address how to handle outbreaks. Robinson says they are working with schools and athletic programs to ensure there are no more than 50 students in one area at a time, which could be complicated during the upcoming football season.
The city council meeting was a continuation from the previous night on Aug. 3, which was reformatted to a virtual meeting after nearly 50 unmasked community members entered council chambers.
While the public was unable to physically participate in the virtual meeting, public comments were submitted via email and can be viewed at kalispell.com.
The Aug. 17 meeting will be in-person in council chambers.