Tamarack Meadows Subdivision Moves Closer to Approval

Columbia Falls City Council amended findings of fact, will hold vote next month

By Micah Drew
Signage for the Meadow Lake Resort Condos in Columbia Falls on Dec. 18, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Columbia Falls City Council at its Jan. 17 meeting received additional information regarding the Tamarack Meadows Subdivision application north of Columbia Falls.

Councilors had raised questioned on the 47-acre development during a Jan. 3 public hearing and Mayor Donald Barnhart prompted the council to delay their decision until additional information could be collected by city staff. Questions included whether city council could direct traffic routes for construction and what covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) apply to the 103-lot subdivision.

During last week’s meeting, planning staff informed councilors that the developer, Schellinger Construction, understood the subdivision to be subject to an existing CC&Rs of Meadow Lake Country Club Estates. The seven-page document details future development must “preserve the character and quality of the property,” and provides for an Architectural Review Board to approve construction design as well as implement standards for lot setbacks.

Councilors noted that concerns neighboring residents have with home design would be under the purview of the Architectural Review Board, and that it was not for the city to deny a subdivision over a potential design conflict during the construction phase.

Addressing a question of whether the city could designate a private road, Turnberry Terrace, as the primary access for construction traffic, Columbia Falls Planner Eric Mulcahy told the council that it was within their authority as the review body of the subdivision.

The Tamarack Meadows development first received public comments during a Dec. 13 planning board meeting where members of the neighboring communities spoke against the development, saying it does not fit with the character of the surrounding subdivisions and would create safety issues with the influx of traffic. The planning board unanimously approved the development with several conditions, including requiring the applicants to resurface two ingress roads, Meadow Lake Drive and Turnberry Terrace; requiring traffic mitigation measures on Meadow Lake Drive; and requiring Tamarack Meadows to participate in road maintenance with the adjacent Mountain Watch subdivision. 

City council approved several amended conditions for the development, including recommending construction of a sidewalk on the west side of Meadow Lake Drive; requiring fencing along certain lots that border public spaces; and requiring developers to pursue “with all due diligence” alternative access routes for construction, including through a private property that was brought forward as an option by the owner. 

After unanimously accepting the amended findings of fact, the city council directed staff to draft a new resolution for the preliminary plat approval with the recent changes. The delay will push a resolution to the subdivision’s approval into next month.

“I think this shows the council is concerned with doing it right,” Mayor Barnhart told the gathered public. “We can’t make everybody happy, but we can try to do what’s best for the most people.