In the last several weeks, news of a major subdivision in Columbia Falls hit local papers. Called the Benches, it would be located just east of the Flathead River Bridge and south of U.S. 2, and would include 48 single family homes and 30 short-term rental resort cabins – all on individual septic systems. Approved by city staff, the City County Planning Board, and passed on to the Columbia Falls City Council for its Oct. 7 meeting, this development is a government-sanctioned accident waiting to happen as follows:
1) An aerial view of the area shows that the northern third is old wetland/floodplain; the southern third is an old Flathead River stream channel; and everything across highway 2 to the north is wetland/floodplain. This development will clearly place residents in harms way during flood events.
2) With 78 total units, all on individual septic systems, and only 300-400 yards from the Flathead River, how long before a sewage-plume shows up in that pristine river – 10 years?
3) The junction of River Road and U.S. 2 is already an accident magnet, and this subdivision duplicates the problem 300 yards to the east.
4) The southern exit from the development will potentially dump hundreds of vehicles a day onto Rogers Road, a formerly quiet, tree-lined neighborhood – permanently destroying its character. And those vehicles will exit Rogers Road onto Columbia Falls Stage Road just as it ascends a long, steep, hill that becomes a skating rink in winter.
5) Vehicles heading south toward Kalispell will then take either Middle Road or Columbia Falls Stage Road, and since they’re both straight as an arrow, will turn them into an Indy 500 race course endangering drivers, their vehicles, and the 100 elk that cross these roads every year.
Hopefully, the city council will wake up, back up, and deep-six this dangerous, intrusive subdivision before they destroy neighborhoods and get someone killed. The Constitution say “We the People” not “we the developers” for a reason.