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KALISPELL - Officials in Kalispell say they will focus annexation policy less on extending the boundaries of the city and more on filling in areas between islands of city land.

City officials announced the shift last week at a joint work session of the Kalispell City Council and Planning Board.

Officials are concerned that the city has extended water and sewer lines, and emergency services too far to industrial and residential developments.

"Hindsight is 20/20," said Councilman Tim Kluesner. "We probably shouldn't have gone out as far as we did."

Officials said the faltering economy caused areas between the city and those developments to remain empty, and that it's time to focus on those empty areas rather than having the city expand outward.

"At some point in time we have to realize that we can't provide everything for everyone," Councilman Duane Larson said. "We can't really adequately take care of what we have now."

Officials said providing services to approved subdivisions that have failed to fill because of the faltering economy is costly for the city.

That makes councilman uneasy about approving future development that would continue to expand the city's limits.

Planning Board President Bryan Schutt said new developments a quarter-mile out from current city limits could be considered, but proposals a half-mile away would probably not.

He said that policy would allow some predictability and "gives us the infill we're wanting without spreading us too far out afield."


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