City Councilmembers voted unanimously to approve two new high-density housing developments on Foy’s Lake Road and Farm to Market Road on their August 2nd meeting. The vote comes as the City Council seeks to address growing concerns in the community over housing capacity and affordability.
The Foy’s Lake development proposal, put forth by Buffalo Hills LLC, will consist of over 400 units including single family homes, town homes, and cottage lots. The cottage lots are described as smaller houses on smaller lots with shared common yards. Some councilmembers expressed concern that only 16 cottage lots were being proposed as they wish to provide more affordable housing.
Councilmember Chad Graham, who was an outspoken opponent of Accessory Dwelling Units in downtown Kalispell, expressed his approval of the Foy’s Lake development, saying “it’s nice to see this piece of property, being described as a scar… being able to turn it into something very nice, very useable.”
Councilmember Ryan Hunter expressed his appreciation that the development would be tied into existing trail systems which would allow residents to ride their bicycles into town. He also expressed his dissatisfaction with housing communities being separated by income and would like to see more mixed-income community in developments, like the one in this proposal.
Mayor Johnson had much to say about the project and how the city council is addressing housing concerns as more and more people move into the Flathead Valley.
“I am excited to see this project move forward. I’m excited to see the transformation of what I’ve come to know as the ‘Kalispell scar’ to be something we can be proud of,” he said.
He addressed concerns from the community about the city council not doing enough to address the large influx of residents in the Valley. He wished to remind people of what the city council has done over the last 8 years to address growth and mentioned a number of projects including the Highway 93 bypass, the core area trail, the West Side interceptor, commercial housing on the East Side, massive numbers of apartments on Two Mile Drive, and reduced impact fees for developers.
“We didn’t see the speed of what was coming,” he said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.
“We are in a good place, we’ve done our homework. There’s still other work to do,” he added.
He also wished to implore people listening into the council meeting to “Welcome our new neighbors. Incorporate them into our way of life. Because if we don’t we will become a fractured society in the Flathead.”
He also implored residents to “Lay off the horns.”
Specifically, Johnson added, “to the man behind me in the Bronco today.”