Planning board approves subdivision with pickleball court

by Mackenzie Reiss
| June 17, 2020 1:00 AM

The Flathead City-County Planning Board recommended approval for a 14-lot commercial subdivision on Montana 83, one of which will include a pickleball and event center, during their June 10 meeting. Applicants Tim and Sherrie Calaway and Richard and Nancy Whitiker are planning to develop the subdivision, called The Fort, on the north side of Montana 83 just before the intersection of Montana 35.

Lot two, which includes the pickleball facility, will be constructed in the first phase of the project, along with lot one. Phases two and three will involve the construction of four and eight lots, respectively. An internal, looped road system will run through the subdivision with two approaches, both on Montana 83. The interior roads will be paved and constructed to county standards but maintained by the property owner, according to the application. The land is currently zoned B-3, or community business.

The Bigfork Land Use Advisory Committee reviewed the application prior to the planning board and had concerns regarding safety and the amount of traffic.

“This area has the greatest traffic congestion in Bigfork. There needs to be a left turn lane into the development. With no idea the amount of traffic this development will generate, is anyone looking at this?”said BLUAC committee member Jerry Sorensen during BLUAC’s May 28 meeting. Sorensen was also concerned with the 70 mph speed limit at the intersection, failure by drivers to use turn signals appropriately and the increased traffic congestion during the summer months, meeting minutes show.

Eric Mulcahy of Sands Surveying said the applicant hired a firm to conduct a traffic study and would be submitting their proposal for review by the Montana Department of Transportation which will determine whether or not any road improvements, such as the addition of a left-hand turn lane, will be necessary. The study found that the lots could potentially generate an additional 364 vehicle trips on adjacent roadways, increasing the traffic by 2-3%.

“He gave the county an easement for access to the green boxes,” meeting minutes show, “and the county assured him that they would address any traffic problems at that access point.”

During the June 10 planning board meeting, applicant Tim Calaway said he didn’t foresee any major traffic problems as a result of The Fort subdivision.

“This is close to the corner, there should be no problems with the access to this thing. We’ve had this in the works for many years and we’ve been through a lot of economic ups and downs and now it’s time for us to do this,” he said.

“We’ve done everything we can to try to review the site and plan for access,” Mulcahy noted. “We’ve talked to all the proper agencies. We just have to work through their processes.”

On the whole, the subdivision is “not expected to overburden county roads,” the planning board staff report states, and taxes generated by the subdivision will be used, at least in part, to help pay for the maintenance of county roads.

The planning board recommended approval for The Fort and the Flathead County Commissioners will make the final determination before the end of the month at a meeting yet to be scheduled. ■