On Sept. 10, 2019 the Columbia Falls City-County Planning Board approved a request for a Planned Unit Development and Major Subdivision, known as The Benches. This subdivision would create 48 single family residential lots and 30 resort cabins on a 55-acre property located at 7073 Highway 2, east of Columbia Falls.
This proposed subdivision, as planned, could have significant impacts on the viewshed, wetlands, wildlife, groundwater and traffic.
The 30 resort cabins, an event center, and office with accompanying roads and parking for 60 vehicles are to be placed in the middle of the wetland area. Not only will the view from Highway 2 be affected, the wetland area itself will be changed forever. As roads and parking are built, utilities are buried and salt from the roads is brought in on vehicles, the birds and animals currently using the wetlands will most likely be there no more.
On the two benches above the highway, each of the 48 homes would have its own individual septic system. The septic from the resort cabins would also be pumped up to one of these benches. Despite work done by the developerís consultant, the effect of these septic systems on neighboring propertiesí groundwater is an unknown. The growth policy calls for 2-8 units per acre on this tract of land, but that would only be with connections to city water and sewer.
The 48 lots, with virtually no open space between them, will essentially cut off any wildlife movement through the property. Elk that often spend time there in the winter and spring will lose this piece of habitat.
The City Plannerís staff report states that this subdivision could create up to 760 vehicle trips per day onto Highway 2 and Rogers Road.
If you have questions, or need more information about this proposed project, call City Manager, Susan Nicosia at 892-4391 or the City Planner, Eric Mulcahy, at 755-6481.
Be sure to comment in writing, or by speaking at the public hearing at the City Council meeting on Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. If we do not participate in the process, we can hold no one accountable.
Luci Rogers Yeats