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Board approves Bigfork apartments

by CHAD SOKOL
Daily Inter Lake | April 14, 2021 2:15 AM

The Flathead County Board of Adjustment has approved permits for a cluster of apartment buildings in Bigfork along with a manufactured home park in Evergreen.

The board voted 4-1 to grant a conditional-use permit to Mark and Tina Gillette to build a dozen apartments on an acre of land at 236 Jewel Basin Court in Bigfork.

Jewel Basin Court is a private cul-de-sac off Montana 83 that runs parallel to a row of businesses along Montana 35. The Gilletes' property is at the south end of the street and zoned for "community business." They are seeking to build four multifamily homes, each with three units and totaling about 3,400 square feet.

The board approved a similar project along Jewel Basin Court in December, granting Rodney and Tia MacFarlane permits to build 20 apartments on two neighboring lots.

The board also gave the go-ahead to Donald "Scott" Davis to develop a small manufactured home park on 1.47 acres at 40 Davis Court, between Spring Creek and South Cedar Drive. The board voted unanimously to grant him a permit on Tuesday. But in order to proceed, his plans will have to satisfy the Evergreen Water and Sewer District, which raised concerns about a lack of adequate water supply on the property.

"This is a conditional-use permit. If he does not follow what is required of him, it can be rescinded," board chairman Cal Dyck said, adding the water district "will have complete authority that he has to meet certain criteria."

The property is zoned for two-family residential use and is currently occupied by two manufactured homes. Davis' project would divide the land into seven spaces — six for rental homes and one for an office or caretaker's unit.

Davis told the board he had spoken with an engineer from the Evergreen Water and Sewer District who spoke positively of the project, but Cindy Murray, the district's general manager, said the plan Davis submitted was flawed and the district had not received payment to formally review it.

Murray said she is certain there is not enough water pressure in the district's system to serve Davis' proposed manufactured home park "unless he is willing to invest substantial investment in infrastructure upgrades."

Ben Covington, the fire marshal at Evergreen Fire and Rescue, said he also has concerns about water supply for fire suppression at the site.

"At Evergreen Fire, we request 1,000 gallons a minute for a duration of two hours. Currently there's not enough adequate water source," Covington told the board, adding firefighters couldn't pump water from the creek, either.

"That's something that we do in other areas," he said. "It's not something that's going to be feasible for this subdivision."

A neighbor also testified against the project.

Reporter Chad Sokol can be reached at 758-4439 or csokol@dailyinterlake.com