Subdivision requested for 142 acres west of town

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A request for a 12-lot commercial and residential subdivision on Lupfer Road west of Whitefish is set to go before the Flathead County Planning Board on Aug. 8.

Joe Carman Jr., on behalf of Whispering Trails, LLC, is requesting preliminary plat approval of the Lupfer Heights subdivision for property that is currently undeveloped forestland. The property is located at 205 and 309 Lupfer Road and is unzoned.

Lupfer Road is about 12 miles west of Whitefish. The property to the north of the proposed subdivision is part of the Stillwater State Forest.

The proposal calls for creating a dozen lots — nine for residential use, one for intended for commercial use and two lots for either commercial or residential — on 142.8 acres. The size of the lots range from a minimum lot size of 4.1 acres up to 32.3 acres in size.

The developer is proposing the residential lots for single-family residential, but the future use of the three lots available for commercial is not known at this time, according to the application to the planning department.

The proposed subdivision is located near the intersection of Lupfer Road and U.S. Highway 93 West, and generally extends north and east along Lupfer Road.

Subdivisions in the area include The Lupfer Road Meadows subdivision, which was completed in 2007 and is located east of the proposal. To the northwest is the Whistlin Acres subdivision and amended plat of Whistlin Acres, which were completed in 2003 and 2005, according to the Flathead County Planning Department staff report.

Access to all, but one of the lots is proposed to be off Lupfer Road. The county is requiring the developer pave 485 feet of Lupfer Road as part of the development. One lot is proposed to have access off Highway 93 West.

An intermittent stream occasionally flows through one of the proposed lots leaving the need for a culvert that crosses under Lupfer Road, according to the staff report, traverses the neighboring property crossing the BNSF railway right-of-way, and then crosses the corner of another proposed lot before existing the property again to continue under U.S. 93 toward its confluence with the Stillwater River. A series of ponds and other wetlands also occur on the eastern portions of the property.

The applicant has indicated 50-foot riparian setbacks from the intermittent stream, as well as the ponds and wetlands, on the property, the staff report notes.

An off-site pond is also proposed to be developed for use for a fire suppression water system, which would include expanding a small wetland into a pond on the subdivider’s neighboring land south of Lupfer.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks provided comment on the project noting that although the subdivision is to be located near Highway 93, its “location between Lower Stillwater and Whitefish lakes places it in a fairly important travel corridor for wildlife moving between the Whitefish and Salish Mountain Ranges.”

FWP noted that is an area important to a wide array of wildlife‚ elk, moose, mule deer, white-tailed deer, mountain lions, black bears and grizzly bears.

“While the piecemeal loss of habitat and connectivity between these two mountain ranges is certainly a concern, all efforts should be made to avoid conflicts with wildlife,” FWP said. “Any residents moving into this area should be informed that this area is home to black bears, mountain lions, grizzly bears, wolves and other predators, and that it should not be a big surprise if they are encountered.”

Each lot would be served by on-site wells and septic.

Cash in-lieu of parkland is proposed and no parks or recreational facilities are proposed within the subdivision.

The county planning staff report says the subdivision appears to generally comply with applicable design standards and subdivision criteria. The report suggests, if approved, 21 conditions become part of approval.

The Flathead County Planning Board meets on Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 6 p.m. in the second floor conference room of the South Campus Building, 40 11th Street West, Suite 200, in Kalispell.

The full planning board agenda is available at https://flathead.mt.gov/planning_zoning/planningboard.php.

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