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Major lakeshore variance approved

March 5, 2019 GMT

The Flathead County Commissioners moved to approve a request for a major variance to the Flathead County Lake and Lakeshore Protection Regulation last week following a public hearing.

The request was submitted by Advanced Consulting Services, LLC, on behalf of Bigfork property owners Bob and Susan Keenan.

According to staff reports, the proposal was for a major variance to place 660 cubic yards of 1-2 inch gravel fill to their “Modified Dynamic Equilibrium Beach.” The property is defined as being “subject to strong wave action and being below average high water.”

The applicants’ request called for a variance to three sections of the current regulations: the application of such fill-type is not permitted in wetlands and sites subject to strong wave action, the maximum fill depth being four to six inches and that the volume may not exceed one cubic yard per 16 feet of lake frontage.


The request was part of an effort maintain the modified equilibrium beach for which the Keenan’s were granted a lakeshore construction permit for in 2005.

Commissioner Phil Mitchell emphasized how the variance request was not uncommon because properties on the north shore of Flathead Lake, in particular, are sometimes subject to shoreline depletion due to wave action and other causes.

“All he [Bob Keenan] is trying to do is save his property so it doesn’t keep eroding,” Mitchell said.

The Bigfork Land Use Advisory Committee recommended approval of the variance in late January, followed by a recommendation for approval from the Flathead County Planning Board in mid-February.

There was no public comment on the proposed major variance.

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com