One of several buildings under construction at Junegrass Place on North Meridian Road in Kalispell on Tuesday, April 11. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
Kalispell City Council on Monday will host a public hearing on the municipality’s application for a $1.36 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
If the Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing grant is awarded, city officials are planning on spending $200,000 toward a housing study, $363,66 to a growth policy, zoning and subdivision update, and $400,000 each to water and wastewater facility plans.
Money for the growth policy, zoning and subdivision update would also cover the cost of bringing on a full-time senior planner within the Development Services Department for three years. In the application, officials argue the hire is necessary to complete the update.
“The basis of the grant request is that changes will be made to city policies that will have a long-term effect,” reads the application. “Rather than a single project specific, one-off proposal, the grant request before you provides a roadmap to housing for the next 25 plus years.”
As part of the application process, officials must hold a public hearing and attach any public comments to the final submission. City Council meets at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 201 First Ave. E. For information on how to attend and participate, including virtually, go to:
The application cites Kalispell’s well-documented growing pains, including the municipality’s designation as the nation’s fastest growing micropolitan as per the 2020-21 Census. The city currently sees a 0% housing vacancy rate and has witnessed a median home price increase of 231% in the past decade, with much of that occurring since the Covid-19 pandemic, according to city documents.
“Kalispell cannot put its head in the snow and ignore the challenges before us, which are larger than could have been predicted prior to the pandemic,” the application reads. “Post-pandemic growth has pushed Kalispell’s already increasing growth to another level.”
Policy changes implemented with help from the grant could speed up residential development, help officials better understand housing needs and projections, alter zoning regulations to foster residential development, and prepare water and wastewater infrastructure for expected growth.
As part of the application, officials touted past efforts to increase housing in the municipality, including zoning and development tools. It highlights Kalispell’s stance toward low-income and homeless residents.
“Whereas, neighboring communities don’t provide for these services, Kalispell is the hub for needed valley wide social services,” the document reads. “Sparrows Nest, Ray of Hope, Warming Shelter, Peggy’s House, Youth/Group Homes, Samaritan House, etc. have all benefited from the city’s proactive stance in recognizing the community need.”
It also cites the city’s decision to lower sewer and water impact fees as a way to ease the burden on developers and spur growth.
Council is scheduled to take up a resolution on submitting the application following the public hearing. The application deadline is Oct. 30.
A SECOND public hearing will be held on an amendment to the fiscal year 2023 General Fund budget. The amendment documents the internal transfer of about $1 million between the Community Development Fund, General Fund and Westside Tax Increment Finance fund. A resolution is expected to go before Council following the hearing and city staff are recommending its approval.
Council also is expected to vote on a resolution to draw on tax increment finance assistance to fund four projects in Kalispell. The dollars would help with the rehabilitation of the building at Depot Park, the purchase of the Wye Track near Meridian Road, the procurement of signs on the Parkline Trail and the remodeling of the current Parks and Recreation Department building.
The Depot Park and Parks and Recreation Department building projects are interconnected, according to a memo by Jarod Nygren, city planning director. With the Depot Park building vacant following the relocation of the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, officials plan to move Parks and Recreation personnel into the city-owned structure. The department’s existing building will be retrofitted into an evidence facility for the Kalispell Police Department, according to the memo.
The Wye Track purchase, already approved by Council, will aid in the expansion of the Parkline Trail, the multi-use pathway that cuts through the center of the city. Money would also go toward safety upgrades in the area west of Meridian Road, according to the memo.
City staff are recommending Council pass the resolution.
AS PART of its consent agenda, Council is poised to give the green light to Kittelson and Associates to provide engineering and design services for the U.S. Department of Transportation Safe Streets for All grant previously awarded for the Main Street and U.S. 93 corridor. Kittelson was one of two firms to bid for the project.
Funding for the contract, capped at $650,000, comes from the federal grant. City staff are recommending the selection of Kittelson and Associates for the undertaking.
Also on the consent agenda, city staff are recommending Council purchase a Crafco Super Shot 125 crack sealer with an onboard compressor from White Cap Supply for about $95,500. Officials set aside $130,100 in the fiscal year 2024 budget for the acquisition, according to city documents.
News Editor Derrick Perkins can be reached at 758-4430 or
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