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More thoughts on River Highlands

| January 5, 2023 7:00 AM

The Columbia Falls City-County Planning Board will once again be considering the River Highlands Planned Unit Development and Preliminary Plat request on Jan. 10, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. at the Columbia Falls Junior High School. Our community turned out in great numbers on Aug. 9, 2022 to participate in the public hearing that ultimately resulted in the Planning Board voting to deny the zone change, PUD and Preliminary Plat.

These recommendations went forward to the City Council, but James Barnett, the developer withdrew the application prior to consideration by the Council.

What has changed?

This time there is no request for a zone change. The zoning would remain CR-3, which is called “One Family Residential.”

The project calls for 343 units and a density of 6.9 units per acre. The previous proposal called for 455 units, with a density of 9.27 units per acre.

What has not changed?

• Drilling under the Flathead River to extend City water and sewer lines

• Development would be annexed into the City

• Lack of respect for the existing neighborhood’s character

• Development would impact wildlife and the Bad Rock Canyon WMA

• High density would cause congestion on River Road and Highway 2

• Development would impact the Flathead River corridor and river recreation

• Cumulative effects as city services would bring more development east of the river

Our Montana Constitution provides for private property rights, a public right to participate and a right to a clean and healthful environment.

These rights may seem incompatible and result in a contentious atmosphere at public hearings. We resent the fact one person or group of investors buys property and proceeds to develop it in a way we do not agree with.

There are codes, policies, and regulations to guide the Planning Board in their decision, but there is often room for interpretation.

Am I right? Are you wrong? Do we really need more housing? Wouldn’t it be great if we could sit down with the developer, the Planning Board and have a give and take conversation?

Well, that is not what a public hearing is for, so state your opinion in three minutes or less and sit down.

Do not ask questions because no one is required to answer. Be civil and set a good example for others.

Most of all, attend the meeting and show the Planning Board the proposed development is still not the right fit for our neighborhood.

Luci Rogers Yeats

Columbia Falls


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