Major lakeshore variance sought for Bigfork beach

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A request for a major variance to the Flathead County Lake and Lakeshore Protection Regulations tops a full agenda for the Flathead County Planning Board’s Wednesday meeting.

The request was submitted by Advanced Consulting Services, LLC, on behalf of Bob and Susan Keenan of Bigfork. They want to make improvements to a “modified equilibrium beach” located at 300 Holt Drive in Bigfork, for which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Flathead County granted a lakeshore construction permit for in 2005.

The request calls for the placement of 660 cubic yards of washed rock, or gravel fill, to their beach area — a proposed amount that exceeds current protection regulations allowing for one cubic-yard of fill per 16 lineal feet of shoreline.

Current regulations state the application of such rock is not permitted in wetlands and sites subject to strong wave action or currents and states the maximum fill depth is four to six inches. According to a planning staff report, the beach property is considered “a wetland site subject to strong wave action” and is “greater than six inches in depth.”

The staff report notes that a reapplication of gravel where it has “washed away, silted in, or revegetated over time” may be permitted by approval by the county commissioners.

Should the Planning Board forward a recommendation for the variance, the request will move to commissioners for final action.

Also on the board’s agenda is a request from Evergreen Business Center Inc. for preliminary-plat approval of a proposed subdivision in the Evergreen Zoning District that includes three commercial lots and 15 residential lots on a little more than 7 acres. The property, known as Hidden Buck Meadows, is located just south of Evergreen Junior High School off U.S. 2.

David and Ruth Fretz are asking for a zone change at 3945 and 3947 U.S. 93 N. from suburban agricultural with a 10-acre minimum lot size to light industrial highway zoning. The property is located within the Highway 93 North Zoning District.

Big Smith, on behalf of Kaltschmidt Holdings, LLC, is asking for a zone change on about 80 acres within the Blanchard Lake Zoning District from agricultural to suburban agricultural with a five-acre minimum lot size. The property is located on Prairie View Road near Whitefish.

The board meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the second-floor conference room of the South Campus Building, 40 11th St. W., Suite 200, Kalispell.

Reporter Kianna Gardner may be reached at 758-4439 or

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