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Work session to hone details of affordable-housing program

February 20, 2019 GMT

The Whitefish Planning Board will hold a work session at 7 p.m. Thursday to further discuss a proposed Legacy Homes program that aims to create permanently affordable workforce housing in Whitefish.

The board will summarize the anticipated amendments to city zoning and subdivision regulations to implement the program. During a work session no formal votes may be taken.

The Planning Board held two work sessions last fall with the City Council and Strategic Housing Steering Committee to discuss solutions for affordable housing. There was general agreement to call the program Legacy Homes, and move forward with 20 percent as the inclusionary zoning rate - a regulation requiring a certain percentage of homes be deed-restricted for long-term affordability.

The Legacy Homes program would apply to residential conditional-use permits, planned-unit developments and subdivisions, targeting households with incomes between 60 and 120 percent of the area median income. The area median income, established annually by the federal government, is $53,400 in Flathead County for a two-person household.

In return, incentives for developers would include a reduction in parking lot sizes and lot width, increase in building height, density and lot coverage and a streamlined approval process for smaller projects and projects in the WB-3 general commercial zone.

The board will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. during its formal meeting to consider a 12-lot residential subdivision planned on 1.17 acres at the corner of Colorado Avenue and Denver Street in Whitefish.

FNB Investments, LLC, of Bend, Oregon, is asking for a preliminary-plat overlay to develop the property at 540 Colorado Ave. with 10 townhomes and two single-family lots.

The majority of the lots have frontage along either Colorado Avenue or Denver Street, but will be accessed from an internal privately maintained dead-end alley. One of the single-home lots would have no frontage along either street, but instead would be accessed from a private internal road.

The developer would be required to pay cash-in-lieu of sidewalks along the Denver Street frontage, according to the Planning Office staff report.

Both the work session and formal meeting will be held Thursday at Whitefish City Hall.

News editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.