Kalispell Council Approves Multi-Family Housing Developments

Projects include the second phase of a major subdivision and four new townhomes; councilor calls on Whitefish and Columbia Falls to help solve homeless crisis

By Maggie Dresser
Kalispell City Hall on March 16, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Kalispell City Council on Monday unanimously approved a variety of resolutions and permits that will add high-density housing units to the community.

Developers will continue the second phase of the Begg Subdivision on Two Mile Drive, which will total 300 units as part of a three-lot apartment complex on the west side of the city. The first phase of construction began following council’s approval of a conditional use permit in 2018.

A conditional use permit was also approved for four townhomes located on Fifth Avenue East in Kalispell, which will include four driveways with single-car garages.

Kim Torgerson, a neighbor who owns the property across the street, voiced concerns during public comment about parking congestion, saying a duplex would be a better fit for the area.

Councilor Ryan Hunter supported the project and praised the developer for adding density.

“I like to see higher density on smaller lots and trying to get as many units in there (for) infill development and increasing the supply of our housing,” Hunter said.”

In addition to development approvals, the council also approved a resolution to hold a public hearing that would facilitate applying for a Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing grant (PRO Housing), a federal grant that would bring in funding for more affordable housing.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), PRO Housing supports communities that are actively taking steps to remove barriers to affordable housing, which includes outdated zoning, gaps in resources, challenges to preserving existing housing stock and more.

HUD is accepting applications before the Oct. 30 deadline.

Congress appropriated $85 million for competitive grant funding under the Consolidated Appropriations Act to identify and remove barriers to affordable housing production and preservation this year. If awarded, the grant could help the city develop and implement housing policy plants, improve housing strategies and facilitate affordable housing production.

“We’re applying for funding for planning efforts to help generate more housing and more affordable housing in Kalispell,” Senior Planner PJ Sorensen said.

A public hearing regarding the PRO Housing grant application will be held on Oct. 16.

Following the council’s action on agenda items, Councilor Chad Graham addressed the city’s ongoing homeless crisis and proposed working with the cities of Whitefish and Columbia Falls to add more housing developments and social service providers across the valley.

“Housing and homelessness go hand in hand and there are a couple of things I would like to see – I would like to see more housing and I would like them to examine their zoning,” Graham said.

Graham told the council that since other communities lack homeless shelters and have historically denied large-scale developments, unhoused individuals are directed to Kalispell where they are connected to resources.

“Kalispell is not a flop house and we’re not a doormat to Whitefish and it’s really starting to grind on me,” Graham said. “I see what our people are going through. The landscaping on our nice trail is being used as a toilet.”

Mayor Mark Johnson proposed scheduling a meeting with the cities of Whitefish and Columbia Falls to work together and brainstorm solutions to mitigate homelessness.

“I would like to see our community working together as a whole valley,” Councilor Sid Daoud said.

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