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Short-term rentals rejected in Bigfork

by CHAD SOKOL
Daily Inter Lake | May 12, 2021 2:20 AM

Last week, the Flathead County Board of Adjustment rejected a proposal to build nine short-term rental units in Bigfork after neighbors raised objections about the character of the neighborhood and the potential impact on their home values.

Adam Britt requested a conditional-use permit to build nine "cluster dwellings" on about 1.7 acres at 615 Holt Drive in Bigfork's upscale Eagle Bend residential area. He proposed building one group of four units and one group of five units, with a one-way driving lane and 21 parking spaces. Each unit would have been about 600 square feet, with two stories, two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom.

"I believe I'm not asking for anything that's outside of the zoning," Britt told the board.

Four of the board's five members were present for Tuesday's meeting, but one member, Tobias Liechti, recused himself due to a conflict of interest. The remaining three members — Cal Dyck, Gina Klempel and Roger Noble — voted down the proposal after Britt opted to proceed with the public hearing.

The proposal was previously recommended for denial by the Bigfork Land Use Advisory Committee.

"Our fear is that, number one, our property values are going to come down," Karen Sykes, with the Lake Pointe Homeowners Association, told the board on Tuesday. "The homes that are directly across from [Britt's property] range from $500,000 up to millions of dollars. And one of the reasons why we have worked so hard to keep short-term rentals out is that they don't have the respect for the property that the residents do."

Noble said he agreed the proposed project is "not compatible with the neighborhood," and said the board had received a letter of opposition signed by 183 neighboring property owners.

Britt still may build up to four units on the property without the conditional-use permit he was seeking, though he will need an administrative permit from the county Planning and Zoning Department to use them as short-term rentals.

The board also:

Approved a request for a permit extension to maintain several temporary buildings at the Eagle Bend Golf Club in Bigfork, which lost its clubhouse in a massive fire in February 2020.

Approved a request from Anthony Sundh for a conditional-use permit to build a second manufactured home at 315 Helena Flats Road in Evergreen.

Denied a request from Gregory and Adria Strable for an "after-the-fact" variance for a retaining wall that was built too close to their property line at 1332 Bigfork Stage Road, prompting a code-enforcement complaint.

Denied a request from James Gelormino for a variance to build a detached accessory structure and mini storage unit at 628 Willow Glen Drive in Kalispell.

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