RV Park planned for rural Columbia Falls

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A Columbia Falls couple is proposing to build a 13-acre RV Park south of Highway 40 off Kinninnick Lane. Robert and Geraldine Rupp are proposing 77 RV lots, called Whispering Pines, to be built in two phases by the fall of 2023 or within five years of approval of their application.

The actual lots would take up about 2.65 acres of the park, roads another 2.3 acres, with about 8 acres of open space.

The park would have eight full service spaces, 42 partial spaces and 27 primitive spaces. There would be a bath house/office, caretaker house, water storage and a pump house as well.

Included would be a 5,000 gallon recharge tanker for fire protection, according to the Rupps’ application with the Flathead County Planning Department.

The acreage is unzoned. Some concerns brought up with the park include increased traffic on the road. It’s estimated that the Lane sees about 200 cars per day. With the RV park, the traffic on the road would almost double, with an additional 186 vehicles per day for the two months of the year when the park is open.

Columbia Falls Fire Chief Rick Hagen raised concerns about the Lane itself, noting the road needs to be widened in places and improved in order to accommodate fire trucks. The applicant has indicated a willingness to improve the road and the county planning staff, in its comments, noted the road would have to be improved as part of approval for the park.

Neighbors have also raised concerns about wildlife and fires at the campground. The Rupps said they would have some common fire pits, so there won’t be 77 campfires every night. The common fire pits would reduce the number of fires to about 21 if they were all used.

The park isn’t expected to have an impact on wildlife, though Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks requires signage that would tell people that feeding wildlife is illegal. It also encourages bear-resistant garbage containers and said the park should not have any fruit trees or fruit bearing bushes on the property.

As far as signage goes, the park could have a maximum sign of 64 square feet at the entrance of Kinninnick Lane and Highway 40, provided it had permission from the landowner. As it’s in the Highway 40 scenic corridor, it could have a directional sign of 12 square feet at the intersection. The park could also buy rights on a nearby existing billboard on Highway 40.

The Flathead County Planning Board will take up the application and hold a public hearing on the park at its Dec. 13 meeting starting at 6 p.m. at its offices in Kalispell.

If approved, this would be the second RV park proposal in less than a year in the area. Glacier Park Inc. is building an RV Park in West Glacier. That park includes 102 recreational vehicle spaces and 25 rental cabins on a 178-acre forested tract of land just west of the main village site off River Bend Drive.

Work on that park started this fall.

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