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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find the current zoning on my property?

How can I determine the required setbacks for my property?

Do I need a building permit to construct a structure on my property?

What is a Conditional Use/Conditional Use Permit?

What is a Zoning Variance?

I want to sell a portion of my property.  How do I do that?

What is the Architectural Review Committee?

What is the process to install a dock on my property?

How do I apply for a Business License?

I want to do Short Term Rentals on my property.  What do I need to do?

Do I need a Sign Permit?

What is the Critical Areas Ordinance/Water Quality Protection Regulations?

  • How do I find the current zoning on my property?

In order to look up the zoning for your property, you must go to the Flathead County GIS and use their Interactive Mapping System.  From that page you can search by address or zoom directly to your property.  Then using the different layers on the right hand side, you can select or 'turn-on' the Zoning layer to see what the zoning label is for your property or neighborhood.

  • How can I determine the required setbacks for my property?

Once you have determined the zoning for the property, you can reach the City of Whitefish Zoning Regulations under Title 11 through the Sterling Codifier's website.  Once on their website, you can expand Chapter 2 Zoning Districts and click on the specific zoning district you are looking for.  This will list all permitted uses, conditional uses, and property development standards (including setbacks, building heights, and lot coverage) specific to each zone.  We do not have a PDF of the current City Code on our website.  The Sterling Codifiers is updated for every text amendment and is the most current.

  • Do I need a building permit to construct a structure on my property?

If the proposed structure will be greater than 200 square feet in size, it will require the issuance of a building permit.  This includes both residential and commerical structures, as well as accessory structures such as sheds, decks, porches, etc.  Please contact the City of Whitefish Building Department at 406-863-2410 for questions regarding the issuance of building permits.  Additionally, all structures regardless of size, must comply with the setbacks established in the City of Whitefish Zoning Regulations.

  • What is a Conditional Use/Conditional Use Permit?

Within each zoning district there is a list of permitted uses (which can be commenced on a property without additional zoning review) and a separate list of conditional uses.  Conditional uses require additional review through a Conditional Use Permit prior to commencement as the uses may be more impactful on the surrounding neighborhood, traffic and roadways, or include additional performance standards.  Conditional Use Permits are first reviewed by the City Planning Board for a recommendation for final review from the City Council.  Conditional Use Permits run with the land not the property ownership.  The time frame from application submittal to final decision is approximately 3 months.

  • What is a Zoning Variance?

A Zoning Variance is a request for a deviation from the requirements of the zoning regualtions.  For example, a deviation from the required setbacks or building height in a particular zone.  Zoning Variance applications are reviewed by the City Board of Adjustment.  There are specific criteria which must be met in order for a variance to be approved.  The criteria for review can be found in Section 11-7-7 of the City of Whitefish Zoning Regulations.  In order for a variance request to be approved, ALL of the criteria must be met or found to be not applicable.  The time frame from application submittal to final decision is approximately 2 months.

  • I want to sell a portion of my property.  How do I do that?

In order to sell a porition of a property, the property must first go through subdivision review before the new lot can be sold.  Depending on a variety of factors, the division may require review as a minor waiver, a minor, or a major subdivision Preliminary Plat.  Each has a different time frame for the application and review period, with the longest (major subdivisions) taking approximately 3 months before a final decision is made by the City Council.  Once a subdivision has recieved preliminary plat, the new lot or lots are not officially created until the applicant completes Final Plat.  This is a separate application process where the applicant must demonstrate they have met ALL conditions approved during the preliminary plat process.  The final plat review takes approximately 1-2 months with a final decsion made by the City Council.  Once the Council approves the final plat, the lots will be created and can then be sold by applicant. 

If a property owner is interested in dividing their parcel of land, they are encouraged to contact the Planning Department at 406-863-2410 to discuss the overall process and submittal requirements.  

Additionally, there are a few instances when subdivision review is not required for the creation of a lot under Montana State Law.  These instances are know as Subdivision Exemptions and include Boundary Line Adjustments, Family Transfers, and Agricultural Exemptions.  

  • What is the Architectural Review Committee?

The Architectural Review Committee reviews and acts on applications for commercial, industrial or public buildings, or duplex/townhouse or greater residential structures within the City of Whitefish. Detached single-family homes are exempt from the Architectural Review Standards.  For additional information or to download the application specific to your project visit the Architectural Review Committee's webpage under 'Boards and Committees.'

  • What is the process to install a dock on my property?

First, if the subject property has NOT been annexed into the City of Whitefish, the property owner or applicant must contact the Flathead County Planning and Zoning Office at 406-751-8200 in order to obtain a lakeshore permit. 

If the subject property is located within the City of Whitefish city limits, an application for a Lakeshore Construction Permit can be obtained here.  The overall size of a proposed dock is calculated in relation to the amount of lakeshore frontage for the subject property.  Additionally, if there is other constructed areas or surfaces within the Lakeshore Protection Zone (20 feet landward of the high water mark), this may affect the size of the dock permitted.  The completed application, required fee, and additional application submittals must be turned into the City of Whitefish Planning Department.  For additional information, visit the Lakeshore Development webpage which includes a link to the City of Whitefish Lakeshore Regulations.

  • How do I apply for a Business License?

Business License applications are submitted to the Whitefish City Clerk's office.  For information regarding the applicable application and required fee, visit the Business License webpage or contact the City Clerk's office at 406-863-2400.

  • I want to do Short Term Rentals on my property.  What do I need to do?

For information regarding short term rentals please visit the Business License webpage which includes an informational sheet and the required application.  Additional information can be found under the Planning Department's Development Applications webpage adjacent to the Short Term Rental application.  Short Term Rentals are only permitted in specific zones within the City of Whitefish.  In order to determine if your property complies with the zoning requirements, you can contact the Planning Department at 406-863-2410. 

  • Do I need a Sign Permit?

  • What is the Critical Areas Ordinance/Water Quality Protection Regulations?