Bigfork residents weigh in on proposed subdivision

    Residents attend a Bigfork Land Use Advisory Committee meeting Thursday night. (NBC Montana photo)<p>{/p}<p>{/p}<p>{/p}<p>{/p}

    The Bigfork Land Use Advisory Committee looked at plans for a proposed 68-acre subdivision during a meeting Thursday night.

    The subdivision, called the Settlement, would be located at 7645 Highway 35. According to committee documents, the subdivision calls for 68 residential lots and 11 commercial lots. Committee members said due to zoning, an additional 115 residential units could be added.

    The Bigfork Fire Department Chief Mark Thiry and Bigfork Water and Sewer Director Lloyd Ross both approved of the subdivision.

    “We would welcome them into our district,” Ross said. “We told them that.”

    Some Bigfork residents expressed concern about adding a residential and commercial subdivision on Highway 35.

    “It concerns me to think that I’m going to see commercial buildings 60 feet from the highway,” resident Edwin Blackler said.

    Resident Jamie Wenzel agreed.

    “That is what you see when you drive into Bigfork,” she said. “It doesn’t go with Bigfork as I know it.”

    According to preliminary plans, the subdivision’s entrance and exit would be on Highway 35. Residents expressed concern about both safety and increased traffic on that road.

    “Having those additional approaches and adding that many people on that short stretch of highway—which is already a very dangerous stretch of road—is very, very bad, in my opinion,” Blackler said.

    A Flathead County Planning and Zoning staff report estimated the subdivision could add 29 additional school-age children to the town. Resident Kim Rose said she thought the estimate sounded low.

    “If that’s the case, where are those kids going to go (to school?),” Rose said, explaining area schools are already full.

    Bigfork Land Use Advisory Committee members expressed concern about affordability of the homes in the subdivision. According to Marc Carstens—owner of the project’s technical advisor Carstens and Associates—homes in the subdivision would be a minimum of 1,500 square-feet, and each have a two-car garage. Carstens said new homes would be marketed for $259,000-$299,000.

    Blackler said he doesn’t think that price range is affordable.

    “I don’t know how I could afford to pay that kind of money for a home,” he said.

    Plans for the proposed subdivision will go in front of the Flathead County Planning Board on March 13.

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