Public hearing on snowmobile business next week

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The Columbia Falls city-county planning board will take another look at a proposed snowmobile rental business on Railroad Street next week.

Swan Mountain Outfitters intends to purchase a.42-acre piece of land at the corner of Railroad Street and Sixth Avenue East North from Lester Elletson, pending a zone change from residential to general business. Swan Mountain Outfitters owner Patrick Tabor would like to operate a snowmobile rental and reservation office on the land.

The planning board debated the application at its last meeting, but ultimately tabled the request. Railroad Street, save for Glacier Park Inc.’s offices, is largely residential.

At the last meeting, Tabor gave a presentation about the application, noting that the snowmobile service would operate from December to April and the Railroad Street property would only be used to check in guests, not to store snowmobiles, trailers, or vehicles. Only light maintenance, such as refilling fluids, would be conducted on site – or more likely, at trailheads. Moving the winter office to Columbia Falls from Hungry Horse would save winter employees from a longer drive in the snow.

But concerns from board members and the public included parking and its overall impact on the residential neighborhood.

The board will now take up two options for a zone change. One is general business (CB-2) or limited business (CB-3). A public hearing on the matter starts Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at city council chambers. Council will take up the measure and hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Sept.18.

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