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Planning news

| January 20, 2021 1:00 AM

It is unusual for business meetings to be held on the North Fork in the winter. Not because of the weather but because so many North Forkers are summer residents. This week was an exception. The North Fork Land Use Advisory Committee met this week to discuss the possibility of taking a look at the North Fork Land Use Plan.

First of all, it needs to be understood that no action was taken and no motions made. A subcommittee was appointed last summer to reach out to landowners and the Flathead County Planning Office to determine what might be needed and how best to meet those needs. Biggest needs are to keep landowners and county planners involved in the process and fully informed about any changes proposed.

The current plan has been in place for a number of years and has actually served us quite well. However, there have been some problems recently. Those problems have mostly involved interpretation of the current plan.

As a result it seems to be the feeling of community members that some definitions need to be classified and performance standards established to support the goal of the current plan.

For example, what is a cabin? The plan makes multiple statements about guest cabins and rental cabins. In my experience, current use of the term “cabin” covers almost every dwelling on the North Fork. My cabin is log and frame construction and includes three main floor rooms and a bathroom plus a partial loft. I have heard landowners refer to their place as a cabin even though they paid more than half a million dollars for it. A text amendment could address this and use terms other than cabin to address dwellings.

This is probably true of other items as well. I applaud the LUAC for recognizing that the biggest need is to inform and educate the community so that the community supports any changes. All meetings of the LUAC will be advertised and open to the public. In addition, LUAC members welcome comments from all landowners and are open to meeting with individuals and groups to share information.

Even after the LUAC comes up with proposals, they will be put in writing and a public meeting will be held and everyone’s input will be considered. The goal is to apply to the county for amendments that are supported by a vast majority of landowners.

Think about it. Make your feelings known and stay informed. The future of our community could well be at stake!

Larry Wilson's North Fork Views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.