Sunday, September 24, 2023

County board of adjustment considers Bigfork vacation rentals

by By HEIDI DESCH: Hagadone News Network
| August 2, 2023 11:55 AM

The Flathead County Board of Adjustment on Tuesday was set to take a look at two separate requests regarding vacation rentals in Bigfork.

An appeal regarding an administrative conditional use permit for short-term rental housing at 223 Swan River Road near Bigfork is on the board’s agenda. A request for short-term rentals at 425 Grand Drive in Bigfork is also up for a vote.

The board meets at 6 p.m. in the South Campus Building at 40 11th St. W. in Kalispell.

For the Swan River Road property, Lynzie and Leonard Castro and Brett and Becky Hughes are appealing a decision by the zoning administrator that granted a permit allowing for a short-term rental for a single-family home on the 3.556-acre property zoned AG-40. Those appealing are neighbors adjacent to the property.

They claim that the decision to grant the permit was made without consideration of the number of neighboring property owners who opposed the permit, that an emergency contact could take up to an hour to arrive at the property and that a short-term rental business is not permitted in the subdivision.

Erik Mack, county planning director, in a memo to the board, points out that decisions on short-term rentals under county regulations do not consider the total number of neighbors in opposition, but instead consider the substance of those objections.

Short-term rental standards do not require the property owners to live on the property, but rather that an emergency contact is available to be at the property within one hour. County zoning regulations set out that the county is not responsible for reviewing or enforcing covenants, conditions and restrictions in place by any homeowners association, and such is considered a civil matter between the property owner and the homeowners association, Mack notes.

For the Grand Drive property, The Glieden Lodge Trust is requesting short-term rental housing on a .225-acre property zoned community business. The property is developed with a mixed-use building that contains three dwelling units, a restaurant and a real estate office.

The three existing dwelling units would be used for vacation rentals.

THE BOARD will also consider a request from Flathead Electric Co-op for a conditional use permit for an electrical distribution substation at 4396 Montana 40 near Columbia Falls. The 1.48-acre property is undeveloped with a mix of open field and a small grove of pine trees.

The surrounding area is predominantly made up of residential uses, according to the planning staff report.

In a letter, Flathead Electric says the substation is intended to provide additional capacity and reliability for electric service within a 4-mile radius with the areas of south Whitefish and Happy Valley seeing the most benefit.

The board is also set to consider a request from J and E Properties for a conditional use permit to allow multi-family dwellings at 418 Maple Drive, Kalispell. The applicant is proposing three duplex structures, for a total of six units, on just under a half acre.

The property is zoned residential apartment.