Whitefish prepares for big annexation

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The Whitefish City Council is poised to take the first step toward annexing 22 acres of contiguous land that includes Park Knoll Estates.

At tonight’s meeting the council will vote on a resolution of intent to annex Park Knoll. If it’s approved, the city then must provide written notice to all registered voters and property owners in the Park Knoll subdivision and publish the required notices in the newspaper.

The Whitefish City Clerk will accept written comments for 20 days after the first published notice, after which the City Council will hold a public hearing before voting on the proposed annexation.

In 1989 the Park Knoll Water Association asked the city to extend water service to the subdivision, located on Whitefish’s south side, west of U.S. 93. The city agreed to extend water to the development, conditioned on property owners waiving their right to protest annexation at the point when Park Knoll became contiguous to city limits, according to City Manager Adam Hammatt’s report to the council.

All property owners within Park Knoll signed the waivers.

“The city has been providing water service to Park Knoll for over 30 years and Park Knoll is now contiguous to city limits,” the report states.

Typically, the city cannot annex contiguous land for a period of one year if the majority of property owners within the area to be annexed file written protests. But in this case, Park Knoll property owners “have waived their right to protest annexation,” the staff report notes.

Although city sewer is available at Park Knoll Lane, a sewer main extension would be required to serve any of the Park Knoll subdivision properties. Park Knoll property owners would be required to pay for the sewer main extension, as well as the standard connection fees when connecting to city sewer.

Storm-water services would remain as is until the property owners create a special improvement district for a storm-water system, according to the city’s annexation plan.

Park Knoll Lane would remain a privately owned road after annexation.

“If the property owners chose to construct the road to city standards, the city would take responsibility for maintaining Park Knoll Lane,” the report states.

Park Knoll residents have been vocal about encroaching development through the years. Most recently, the Park Knoll Estates Homeowners Association raised objections to a proposed neighborhood plan for 70 acres fronting U.S. 93 south of Park Knoll Lane.

In other business, the council will hold a public hearing on a request from Ross Thiessen for a conditional-use permit to build an accessory apartment at 718 Third St. W.

Two other public hearings deal with rezoning city property. The city intends to rezone about 2 acres on Skyles Place from limited business to a high-density multifamily residential district. The city also plans to rezone about .5 acres on Baker Avenue to add a secondary business designation to the existing industrial and warehousing district, to accommodate the Commerce Street Condos at 1820 through 1832 Baker Ave.

The county will review and possibly adopt the proposed capital improvement program for the next five years. While the plan was adopted with the city budget in August, two significant changes have occurred since then, the staff report notes.

First, State Park Road, a resort tax street improvement project, has a significant storm-water portion that will require additional funding. After receiving further information from the city’s consultant, the city has added $1.5 million to the street reconstruction project to cover the storm-water improvement.

The second major change affects two water projects related to expanded services on the south side of the city and the water treatment facility. The change adds another $10 million to the water capital improvement plan.

The council meets at 7:10 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, at Whitefish City Hall.

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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