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The Whitefish Pilot called it a "Surprise Turnaround in Donut Disagreement" The paper suggested that a settlement to one of the most contentious issues Whitefish has seen could be just "around the corner."

But wait a minute!!

The City of Whitefish City Council and Flathead County Commissioners, did sit down and talk about working together---and for a moment it did sound good...

But when you look at the outcome it is still pretty much a shell game and Whitefish has much to loose if you don't take time to send comments and speak up once again on Monday, Nov. 1st at the Whitefish City Council meeting!  Read why below. 
Shell Game

We call it a shell game because at the Whitefish City Council Public Hearing on Monday night at 7:10pm, at city hall, you have the opportunity to comment on a new proposed Interlocal Agreement, but they aren't showing you what is under the other two cups so you won't even be able to comment on those related agreements. Click here to see the new draft Interlocal Agreement they have made public.

Here's the shell game---the county and the city are agreeing now to take the four key issues that were at the center of the conflict over the last draft of the Interlocal Agreement---#1:the termination clause, #2:the who pays all the costs clause, #3 the  the clause in the last draft that allowed the county to propose changes to any planning policy adopted since 2005 that it didn't like, and #4: the locally elected community council proposal--- and hide the latter three issues for now until the city agrees to the first issue---the termination clause.

The problem is that if the city gives in and changes the termination clause making it easy for either party to walk away from this agreement with only one year's notice, Whitefish and Whitefish-area
home and business owners stand to lose big The current IA says the city and the county must BOTH agree to terminate the agreement so as to encourage these two governments to work harder together to find solutions and to have a stable and predictable planning process in the area around Whitefish.  "Walking away" by either the city or the county would overturn up to 65 ordinances at the gateways to Whitefish, including the Growth Policy, Big Box ordinances, Water Quality and Lakeshore Protection rules for both Whitefish and Blanchard Lakes. This is why you need to speak up on Monday and tell the city to oppose any change to the termination clause that makes it easier for either the county or the city to walk away from a long history of joint planning in the two-mile area around Whitefish. It's time for the county and city to make working together a higher priority.

It was loosely decided at the last workshop between the city and the county on the IA---to strip out the other three issues. But deciding who pays the cost for planning, and what existing policies can be re-opened by the county for significant changes, and how and when a local elected Community Council will be created, should be laid out in one agreement.  Otherwise these decisions become an unpredictable shell game where home and business owners, who have made major investments in Whitefish because it is still a special place, have no idea if possible policy changes will benefit only a few loudly complaining "special interests" with attorneys at the expense of the community at large and degrade the very reason people want to live in and around Whitefish.

It is also important to note that many responsible developers and home owners have made significant investments in their projects, homes or businesses in compliance with existing regulations and proposals to now change these rules for the benefit of a few is simply unfair and has not been justified.

Please plan to attend the City Council meeting again on Monday, Nov 1st at 7:10pm and also take time right now to send comments again and tell the City Council of Whitefish ( ) and the Flathead County Commissioners ( ) to:

* OPPOSE proposed amended Interlocal Agreement, which gives the County Commissioners final say on land use decisions at the gateways to Whitefish, and which greatly weakens provisions that keep the City and County both at the table working for positive solutions.

*  IN FAVOR of the City and County amending the 2005 Interlocal Agreement to create an elected Community Council for the doughnut. Such a council could be created quickly and legally. This would solve the real issue at the heart of this controversy - which is representation!

*  IN FAVOR of the elected Community Council reviewing existing ordinances such as the CAO and Growth
Policy, which apply in the 'doughnut.'

* IN FAVOR of allowing the courts to decide the legality of the 2005 Interlocal Agreement, unless it is amended
to include an elected Community Council. Without an elected Council, only a court decision will create the predictability everyone is seeking.


Citizens for a Better Flathead

PS     Three to four city council members including Turner Askew, Phil Mitchell, and, Chris Hyatt are still opposing adding a Community Council option in the new Interlocal Agreement under consideration right now, despite hundreds of comments favoring this Community Council. Tell them to honor the overwhelmingly large public comment calling for a locally elected Community Council, by asking that the Whitefish City Attorney work with the County Attorney to draft a possible amendment to this Interlocal Agreement.  This would give the city and the county and the public the benefit of a draft clause that could be studied and further considered.

Note that Whitefish City Council member Bill Kahle and his son and some friends were recently in a serious car wreck; please send wishes and prayers for his and his companion's full recovery).
The Ad below ran in the Whitefish Pilot several weeks ago
and still contains useful information.

Is this ok for Whitefish? 10-2010
The email below was sent for the October 4th hearing and contains links to the  earlier draft Interlocal Agreement and many other background documents.

"I have read the proposed "amendments' to the 2005 Interlocal Agreement. You should read them. They are devastating to the city. Although proposed as a 'settlement' with the county, they are a complete surrender. The city gives up everything. The county gains complete control. Why would any city councilor support them?"... "Without a strong public response, they'll give the doughnut awayJohn Phelps, Recently Retired WF City Attorney (see editorial WF Pilot)

It's time to say NO!

Attend Hearing & Send Comments--Be there Monday October 4th!
Get Involved. Make a Difference!July 2010
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An Important letter to read

"I have been following the ongoing discussions of the Whitefish Interlocal agreement for the past two and one-half years with some interest, but until I read the terms of the proposed settlement in the Whitefish Pilot, I had chosen to remain silent on the issue.  I am breaking my silence because I find the terms of the proposed settlement to be egregious. "   Forest Sanderson, Flathead County's first Director of Planning who is now the Community Development Director for Red Lodge, Montana. Click here to read his full letter.

Click Here to read our recent alert with more information.
Dear Friend,

It time to speak up again! On Monday October 4th, both the Flathead County Commissioners and the Whitefish City Council, in two separate meetings, are scheduled to consider approval of proposed amendments to the Whitefish City/County Interlocal Agreement, which, since 2005, put in place a process of joint planning in the roughly two-mile area around Whitefish.


The risk is real! With one "ill-advised" vote, years of hard work and compromise by Whitefish City residents and Whitefish residents who live in the two-mile area around the city, could be easily overturned by the Flathead County Commissioners. This is not the solution Whitefish needs.


Former Montana Supreme Court justice Terry Trieweiler said in the Whitefish Pilot story today:  
"I'm particularly concerned that the council is willing to cede control over territory that is critical to the community's future based simply on legal advice, which I consider misguided...
"..."In a community like Whitefish, whose economy and property values are extremely dependent on the community's appearance to others, nothing is more important than local control of the manner in which the community develops".

(click here to read his full letter)

Take time right now to send a quick email to the Flathead County Commissioners at and the Whitefish City Council Ask them to:
  • Reject amendments proposed to the 2005 Whitefish City/County Interlocal agreement
  • Keep the 2005 Interlocal Agreement in place and let the courts decide its legallity.
  • Work together to put in place an elected community council for the two-mile donut and a process for meaningful representation of county residents in this area.
Attend, stand with your friends and neighbors, and speak up against these amendments at the Whitefish City Council Workshop Mon. Oct. 4th, at 6pm and the Public Hearing on this issue that starts at 7:10pm in the Whitefish City Hall. Mail comments to WF City Council, PO Box 158, Whitefish, MT 59937 so they arrive before the meeting.

The Flathead County Commissioners have chosen to not hold a public hearing (?!!), but they are required by law to consider your written comments and to allow pubic comment once a day on any topic, and so on Oct. 4th you can speak on a first come first speak basis during a fifteen minute period at 10am. At 10:30am the commissioners are scheduled to sign the agreement. Don't let them ignore your voice. Flood them with emails and pack the room. Let them know that you care and want a better solution for Whitefish.


Citizens for a Better Flathead