Growth Plan Under Heavy Assault 

Montarise would replace a pristine forest with high density market rate housing

By Marcus Esmay

Flathead County operates under a growth plan centered on “Seven Elements of the Public’s Vision.” These seven elements (protecting views, promoting a diverse economy, managing transportation, maintaining rural identity, protecting access to parks, properly managing and protecting nature, and preserving property rights) are under heavy assault.

Seemingly weekly, county and city leaders are presented with re-zoning requests for new developments of over-priced row houses and McMansions on land zoned for rural single-family housing or farmland. Lately, our community has had success stopping or diverting these developments, but the onrush of profiteers continues with little regard to what the residents of this valley want or need. 

One of the worst of these developments seeking re-zoning is Montarise. Located at the corner of Highway 93 and KM Ranch Road, this project squeezes 268 units, a strip mall-style commercial development and a 79-spot trailer park onto 156 acres. By conservative estimates, it would add 850 residents and 93 children to the Whitefish School District. The developer, Carolina Homes out of Alberta, has done little to reach out to the community or neighbors for input. They’ve also done a haphazard job of analyzing environmental and safety impacts while attempting to rush the development through the re-zoning process. 

Montarise would replace a pristine forest with high density market rate housing. The profit will go back to Canada and our taxpayers will be left further separated from nature and holding the bill on services for the next wave of transplants. That might work in Calgary or Red Deer, but not here in the Flathead Valley. We need to make our voices heard and stop this development in the zoning phase. Please sign the Stop Montarise petition that is circulating online and attend the Sept. 7 zoning board meeting at the fairgrounds. 

Marcus Esmay