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Kalispell City Council Passes 1st Reading of Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance; Downtown Historic Design Ordinances Passes 2nd Reading

After much debate the City Council has finally approved Ordinance 1861, amending Kalispell’s Zoning Ordinance to add provisions for accessory dwelling units within certain zones. The Ordinance would only effect zones which already allow for duplexes.

The council was split on whether or not such an ordinance addressed the growing concern for affordable housing, with Mayor Johnson imploring the council to view this as simply a small way of addressing housing supply issues.

Council member Tim Kluesner put forth an amendment to the ordinance which stipulated that the ADUs would not be allowed to be used for short-term rentals under 30 days of time, which passed. The amendment was put forth to address concerns that ADUs would be used for VRBOs (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

The Ordinance would require only one parking space per unit, with multiple council members raising concerns that this would exacerbate the parking issue on narrow downtown streets. Council member Ryan Hunter, wholly approving of the ordinance, argued that more cars driving around looking for parking would force drivers to lower their speed and make neighborhoods safer.

The ordinance passed with only one single no vote coming from Council member Chad Graham, who argued that he felt they would soon be having similar votes on allowing accessory dwelling units in other zones, warning that Kalispell is trending towards issues he saw in other downtown areas that allow such dwellings such as Portland, Oregon.

The ordinance would require homeowners to obtain an administrative use permit and notify their neighbors. Units would be restricted to a living area of 1,000 square feet. The ordinance will need to pass a second reading before it goes into effect 30 days after that vote.

Ordinance 1860 also passed with unanimous support by the city council, incorporating design standards for properties within the “Downtown Historic Overlay” and “Main Street Historic District.”

The specified “Downtown Historic District” and “Main Street Historic District” where Ordinance 1861 applies.

The design standards seek to “conserve the city’s natural beauty and visual character and charm by insuring that structures, signs and other improvements are properly related to their sites, and to surrounding sites and structures, with due regard to the aesthetic qualities of the natural terrain and landscaping.”

The ordinance also calls for the appointment by the Mayor of an Architectural Review Committee of at least five persons, to be approved by the City Council.

While the ordinance unanimously passed the vote, Council Member Sid Daoud reiterated his previous concerns that they may have a negative fiscal effect on property and business owners and that he would be keeping a close eye on the matter.

The full standards can be read here on page 12:

https://www.kalispell.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_07192021-659

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