Citizens For A Better Flathead
P.O. Box 771, 35 4th St. West, Kalispell, MT 59903
t. 406.756.8993          f. 406 756-8991


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Putting Together the Planning Puzzle

Flathead County planning officials have rewritten and adopted our valley's growth policy. It affects nearly a half-million acres of private land located outside the three cities of Kalispell, Whitefish and Columbia Falls. These three cities have also adopted their own growth policies.

Flathead County
Flathead County Growth Policy - Adopted October, 2012

Kalispell Growth Policy "Plan-It 2035" - Adopted July 3rd, 2017
Kalispell Downtown Plan
Kalispell Core Area Plan

Whitefish Growth Policy - Adopted November, 2007 and updated February, 2009
Whitefish Downtown Plan
Whitefish Hwy 93 West Corridor Plan

Columbia Falls
Columbia Falls Growth Policy- To obtain a copy of the growth policy contact the City of Columbia Falls

What is a growth policy? Growth policies are critical to our valley's future because they set forth the goals and policies that shape how we will expand our communities into these areas. A growth policy's purpose is to make room for more businesses and homes while safeguarding the attractive town and country atmosphere that is essential to our identity and success as a region. Growth policies are not just about where or how we grow. They are also very much about good jobs, fair taxes, affordable housing choices and community character.

It's a huge puzzle: A 1000-square mile valley wedged between Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi.

There are many pieces: The economy, taxes, jobs, natural resources, unparalleled beauty, community character, neighborhoods, housing, industry, retail, transportation, public services, clean air and water, hunting and fishing, hiking and boating, access, and critical wildlife habitat.

The pieces are getting smaller: Between 1973 and 2000, 162,596 acres of land were divided into 18,671 parcels in Flathead County. Between 1974 and 1997, average farm size dropped 44 percent. Gated developments are becoming more common.

More and more people want a piece of the puzzle: Between 1990 and 2000, the population grew by 26 percent adding 15,253 new residents at a rate of growth twice that of the state, enough to fill a new city the size of Kalispell .  How should we direct the growth that will come with the 16,500 new residents projected to move to the Flathead Valley in the next fifteen years? Will we expand our communities to make room for more businesses and neighbors and still safeguard the attractive patterns of town and country that are essential to our identity and success as a region?

Some Interesting Statistics. . .

  • Flathead County's population is 88,473, with a 2007 summer seasonal population of over 100,000
  • The City of Kalispell estimates that between 2000 and 2007, the city's population rose from 14,223 to 20,000--an increase of 40% in 7 years.
  • In March of 2007, consultants estimated that Flathead Valley's rate of farmland loss was 1.5 acres per day.
  • Flathead County's population grew at a rate of 6.7% between April 2000 and July 2003, far outstripping the rate of 1.7% for the state as a whole.
  • In the 1990s, Flathead County's population rose by about 25% and amount of farmland decreased by about 25%
  • In 2004, for the second year in a row, Flathead County was the top residential construction market in the state. In that year, the county registered 160 subdivisions, totaling 1,547 lots and 2,256 acres. New single-family home starts in 2004 totaled 1,136.
  • Between May and August 2005, 950 jobs were posted at the Flathead Job Service. Of those, 250 paid less than $8.00/hr.  Of the remaining 700 jobs paying more than $8.00/hr, 450 were all posted by the same company, and all those were between $8.00 and $9.25/hr.  Of all 950 posted, only 7 jobs paid wages that would allow an individual to afford the estimated median home value in Flathead County for 2003. 


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