Opposition speaks out on Bigfork’s rural vacation rental proposal


The Flathead County Adjustment Council will kick off the new year on Jan.4 by voting on a demand for short-term rental housing in Bigfork that has sparked opposition from neighbors.

Jeanne Bayer of Cherry Hill Lodge, LLC has applied for a conditional use administrative permit to allow vacation rental in a single family home at 9248 Montana 35 in Bigfork. However, if written opposition from adjacent landowners has been received before the end of the comment period and concerns expressed about the objection cannot be resolved by the applicant or by conditions of approval, council of The administration is required to examine the request.

The council will hold a public hearing at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, January 4 in the second floor conference room of the South Campus building, 40 11th St. W. in Kalispell.

The Cherry Hill Lodge property is approximately 3.65 acres and the applicant is not proposing to construct any additional buildings, according to the planning office staff report. It is accessed by an unnamed private gravel road off Montana 35.

Based on the planning staff’s site visit and application documents, “it appears that the property in question has adequate usable space to accommodate short-term rental accommodation,” the staff report said.

Several of the neighbors wrote letters of concern regarding traffic and impacts on the private road, but the staff review revealed that, since the rental will be limited in maximum occupants, rental traffic to short term would be similar to that of other detached houses. family houses in the region.

Neighbors Don and Rebecca Bauder wrote that the road shared by seven owners is about 1,500 feet of steep gravel road, prone to washboards and ruts.

“We who live here use all-wheel drive vehicles and are skilled at navigating the road, minimizing the impact. Rental users, unfamiliar with such driving conditions, impact road wear and tear, thereby increasing road maintenance covered by owners, ”the Bauders wrote.

They requested that, if approved by council, the rental agreement clearly define how the road would be used and that there be no access to nearby Flathead Lake from the Cherry Hill Lodge property. .

Neighbors are also challenging what they see as commercial use in a residential area. Some neighbors have referred to a 2004 court ruling that resulted in a standing judgment against Margrit Matter, doing business as The Bohemian Grove, in the same area. Neighbors sued Matter and a Flathead District Court ruling ordered him to refrain from hosting weddings and events at the property, 9264 Montana 35.

Neighboring owners believe the court ruling sets a precedent for not allowing activities such as vacation rentals in the neighborhood.

However, the planning staff report notes that according to the county legal review, the judgment and permanent injunction affecting the property in question does not prohibit the use of the property for residential purposes, including housing. short term rental.

IN OTHER matters, the council will hold three more public hearings:

George J. Joseph, on behalf of Falcon 48, LLC, is applying for a conditional use permit to construct a 10-unit apartment building at 48 West Evergreen Drive.

MKR McDermott Lane, LLC, is applying for a conditional use permit for a recreational facility located along McDermott Lane near Kalispell in the North Zoning District of Highway 93.

Cesar and Alexandra Avila have requested a waiver of setback requirements at 881 Trail Creek Road in Polebridge to accommodate an 18ft by 24ft guesthouse. Volume and size requirements in the North Fork Zoning District require a 100 foot front yard setback for new buildings. In addition, a 150 foot setback is required from the high water mark of rivers, streams and lakes (over 20 acres). The property is bordered to the north by a seasonal stream which essentially serves as the northern boundary of the property. Due to the setback requirement for the road (100 feet) and creek (150 feet), the property is not wide enough to meet these requirements, according to the planning staff report.

The decisions of the regularization committee are considered final.

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