Polson neighborhood seeking zoning change

Print Article

RESIDENTS IN the Grays Acres neighborhood are seeking a zoning change from medium to low density in order to stem the development of subdivisions. (Brett Berntsen/Lake County Leader)

After uniting to block a proposed subdivision earlier this year, residents in a Polson neighborhood are once again banding together to seek a zoning change aimed at heading off further development.

The Polson City-County Planning Board last week approved a preliminary request to reclassify county-owned portions of the Grays Acres neighborhood as a low-density residential district.

While the action was the first step in a multi-month process culminating in approval from both the Polson and Lake County Commission, the subject nevertheless stirred up a lively debate from members of the public.

Local developer Gehrand Bechard, whose application for a subdivision at the corner of 13th Avenue East and 11th Street East was denied in January after encountering strong opposition, said the change from medium to low density will stifle growth, prevent affordable housing development and “pigeonhole” lower-income residents to other parts of town.

“This is a very weighty topic tonight,” he said, noting that he spoke for developers in general and that his property was not included in the proposal.

Reiterating arguments that emerged in January, residents argued that the neighborhood’s street and infrastructure can’t handle additional development.

Donna Houle said that the Grays Acres area already suffers traffic congestion and low water pressure. Continuing to build apartment complexes, she said, will exasperate these problems.

“You’re going to want more and more,” she said. “We don’t have more.”

Ben Anciaux, who submitted the zone change request on behalf of the neighborhood residents, noted that 25 out of the 33 affected homeowners signed a letter supporting the zone change.

“We’re a democracy,” he said. “That simple fact alone should be enough to pass this.”

Highlighting an underlying theme of the discussion, proponents of the change argued that subdivisions lower surrounding property values and change the character of traditionally single-family neighborhoods.

Bechard, however, said that offering affordable housing provides a service to the community.

“Some people think of them as slums or full of prostitution or whatever it is,” Gehrand said. “That’s not the case with my properties, here or in California.”

The issue raised questions for Tana Seeley, who owns and manages several rental properties included in the request. Seeley asked if existing duplexes and multifamily units would be impacted by the change.

Board Chairman Sam Jacobson said that existing properties are typically “grandfathered in” during zone changes, but future additions such as accessory dwelling units or “mother-in-law homes” could be prevented under the low-density classification.

As the proposal moves forward, Lake County Planning Director Jacob Feistner said that if 40 percent of the affected property owners expressed opposition the request would fail.

“This is the first step in a two or three month process,” he said.

Print Article

Read More

Fire restrictions to be lifted Wednesday

September 18, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Lake County Leader On Wednesday, fire restrictions will be lifted for the county, according to County Commissioner Dave Stipe. The decision came after weather systems bringing precipitation passed through the area, be...

Comments

Read More

Pirates fall to Corvallis, prepare for Broncs

September 14, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Lake County Leader Polson High School football coach Pat Danley isn’t about to offer up any excuses for his team’s 37-14 loss to Corvallis Saturday night at Corvallis High School. The Pirates were confined to pract...

Comments

Read More

Vikings dominate Warriors in conference opener

September 14, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Lake County Leader CHARLO — Prior to the start of the season the Charlo Vikings football team was considered to be one of the favorites to win the Class C, 8-man football title after falling 30-24 to Ennis in last ...

Comments

Read More

Lady Pirates volleyball drops to Libby, Whitefish

September 14, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Lake County Leader Polson Lady Pirates volleyball coach Patty Luetzen observed a characteristic after her team played at Libby that might make them one of the perennial Class A state championship contenders. The Libby...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 883-4343
PO BOX 1090
Polson, MT 59860

©2017 Lake County Leader Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X