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Proposed zone change for marinas would affect Bigfork development

by LYNNETTE HINTZE
Daily Inter Lake | September 14, 2021 12:00 AM

The Flathead County commissioners will consider a zone change regarding the use of marinas that affects Bigfork Bay during a public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 21.

The proposed text amendment adds marina as a conditional use in the B-3 community business zone and adds marina in the definition of a commercial recreational area.

In August 2020 the commissioners adopted a resolution that removed the marina planned-unit development option from county zoning regulations, according to the Planning Office staff report. Staff recommended the removal primarily because the county’s lake and lakeshore protection regulations have specific marina standards that weren’t referenced in the marina PUD section of the regulations, the report noted.

In January this year, it was brought to the planning staff’s attention that a text amendment adopted in 2000 added the marina PUD language to the regulations specifically to address marina development potential on certain commercial zoned property with frontage in Bigfork Bay, which is not regulated by the county’s lakeshore regulations.

“This apparent oversight and lack of institutional knowledge regarding this 2000 text amendment resulted in uncertainty whether a marina could be developed on B-3 (community business) zoned property,” the staff report said.

The proposed zone change aims to eliminate “potentially questionable interpretations” of the zoning regulations regarding the development of marinas.

The B-3 zoning is used primarily along major highways in the county, but there is property zoned B-3 in the Bigfork area, with some property in Bigfork Bay.

“The ability to obtain a conditional-use permit for a marina on the B-3 zoned property appears to be quite suitable for this area,” the staff report noted. “A marina development in Bigfork Bay could capitalize on the numerous amenities Bigfork has to offer. Moreover, because the request is to require a conditional-use permit for a marina in the B-3 zone, any impacts to the surrounding area can be mitigated with conditions of approval.”

The public hearing begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, in the commissioner chambers on the third floor of the main courthouse in Kalispell.