The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) is seeking public comment on a proposed private driveway east of Smith Lake. The private driveway under consideration will provide private access to three landowners. Originally, the State considered a Reciprocal Access Easement Exchange which has now been revised to a Private Driveway. The project still involves a new 1.6-mile gated road starting at E Lakeshore Drive, that will allow non-motorized recreational use. The driveway easement is proposed to limit subdivision development and only supports private access to one single family residence per parcel as per the State's 2006 Access Road Policy. The proposed road passes through the eastern portion of our proposed 600-acre Smith Lake Legacy project and will create recreational loops once the Whitefish Trail is constructed as planned in the area.
Comments should offer support for the private driveway IF:
The private driveway easement limits subdivision and access for ONLY one single family residence per parcel as per 2006 Access Road Policy. The limitation must be documented in the recorded easement document, not simply addressed in a Road User Agreement. The development limitation should be legally binding and in perpetuity.
The private driveway must benefit public access and provide high-quality, managed recreation opportunities as proposed by the City of Whitefish on behalf of the public - including the Whitefish Trail and all additional recreation amenities including the proposed East Smith Trailhead and additional stacked loops to Smith Lake, Hellroaring Basin, and back to the Swift Creek Trailhead.
Please submit written comments no later than Monday, Nov. 14
to DRing@mt.gov or by calling 406-881-2371.