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BLUAC meets Thursday to discuss traffic, noise bylaws and other issues

by TAYLOR INMAN
Bigfork Eagle | July 27, 2022 12:00 AM

The Bigfork Land Use Advisory Committee will take a look at a few ‘big picture’ issues at their monthly meeting on Thursday.

There are no applications for consideration, but the board is slated to discuss a few persistent issues that come up regularly or semi-regularly at meetings. BLUAC acts in an advisory capacity for official Flathead County land use decision-making boards and Flathead County Commissioners concerning applications and proposals for growth and development projects within the Bigfork Zoning District.

The board will continue discussion of several topics from their June 30 meeting. Near the top of the list is the issue of worsening traffic in Bigfork. Board member Richard Michaud said at their last meeting that there are multiple unsafe intersections in and around the village, specifically Highway 35 and Bridge Street. Other board members also agreed parking continues to be an issue. They discussed the idea of creating a road district for Bigfork and board member Chany Ockert brought up the possibility of creating a resort tax to fund infrastructure needs. She recommended that the Bigfork Area Chamber of Commerce be invited to an upcoming meeting to discuss potential avenues. The board decided they should meet with the Montana Department of Transportation before they discuss this idea further with the Chamber to better understand where the agency stands on traffic and state highways.

The board will continue to discuss application reviews and lack of attendance by applicants and/or representatives. Board members come prepared to ask questions of the applicant, but oftentimes they don’t attend the BLUAC meetings. Board chair Susan Johnson suggested at their June 30 meeting that Planning and Zoning inform BLUAC ahead of a meeting if the applicant will not be in attendance. This would allow committee members to formulate questions or make comments that would be in the minutes so the Board of Adjustment or Planning Board can ask such questions of the applicant at that meeting.

The committee will also look at their Neighborhood Noise bylaw (MCA 45-8-111.) This is based off of a request from a public commenter at their June 30 meeting. Rey Johnson said he hears music at 11:30 at night on his property and requested the topic of a noise ordinance for their next meeting. There is no noise ordinance for Flathead County.

At their June 30 meeting, several residents from the Lake Pointe area were in attendance to discuss the impact of a short-term rental development on their property. Nearby residents said the development will worsen traffic in the area. Bigfork Water and Sewer District Manager Julie Spencer said there are two one-inch water lines and two four-inch sewer lines serving two contiguous buildings on the property. The owner has only paid for one water line and has said he will not pay for two lines, so BWS has padlocked the system. At the time of that meeting, the owners could not use the buildings and were required to connect the buildings with a roof. Spencer said Planning and Zoning had not been notified, as the property owner is developing in accordance with the zoning in place. Michaud talked to Planning and Zoning regarding the project’s issues and was told that they need to receive three written complaints before they will act. Spencer stated that BWS will wait until the developer asks for water, then they will evaluate if water is available based on the fixture count for all the units. Public commenters Thomas and Carolyn Nicewarner said they would file a complaint to Planning and Zoning. Nicewarner said he is the president of the homeowner’s association, which represents 52 lot owners with 24 homes built.

“Clarification of the complaint submissions to Planning and Zoning” is listed on their July 28 agenda. At the end of their meeting, the board is also slated to discuss future issues with development and infrastructure.

BLUAC meets at 4 p.m. in the library at Bethany Lutheran Church on July 28.