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Letters to the editor Nov. 15

| November 15, 2021 12:00 AM

Responsible growth

A second, critically important planning board meeting on Thursday will center on the Mountain Gateway Development being proposed at the junction of Big Mountain Road and East Lakeshore Drive. As a 35-year member of this community and a board member of Flathead Families for Responsible Growth, I am asking you to please join us at City Hall to continue the dialog as to why this development should be stopped in its tracks.

Our community has already spoken against Mountain Gateway, with over 3,700 names on a petition, over 400 letters directed to the Planning Board and City Council and with hundreds of people who attended the Oct. 21 Planning Board meeting in person and online. Remember, we are not opposed to growth. We are against irresponsible growth in our community. And we are opposed to this development because it is not a meaningful answer to affordable housing, even though the developers would like you to think so.

That being said, Flathead Families for Responsible Growth board members are excited about the affordable housing project being proposed on city land near the Water Treatment plant. There are no “smoke and mirrors” tactics here, just a few community-minded benefactors who would like to see our workforce both work and live here in Whitefish.

Remember — 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 18 at City Hall — let your voices be heard.

— Carol Atkinson, Whitefish

A Trojan horse

The Mountain Gateway PUD is a Trojan horse, thinly disguised as affordable housing and land for a fire station that will irrevocably change the landscape of Whitefish, set a dangerous precedent for future development, and degrade our safety and quality of life. This project is, at best, misguided and, at worst, borders on negligence.

The infrastructure is not in place for this immense development. This should have been a hard stop for the developers and city staff.

A comment by then four-term City-County Planning Board member, Scott Sorensen, in the 2009 Whitefish Transportation Plan rings truer today: “…the two biggest needed major projects are 1) Wisconsin Avenue from the viaduct to Whitefish Mountain Resort and 2) a car/truck 93 bypass on the west side of town...Everything else is less needed”. Twelve years later, no meaningful progress has been made on either issue.

This project creates a new, high-density, car-dependent community, through significant zoning changes, which is reckless when the main egress for a mass evacuation will depend on an already overburdened road ending at a choke point over the railroad tracks. At a minimum it warrants an independent traffic analysis and recommendation.

This project is incongruous with existing neighborhoods and will degrade our quality of life. Are we committed to keeping Whitefish’s “small town feel and ambiance”, to making our town walkable and bikeable as part of a comprehensive plan to improve quality of life and traffic flow? Or will we capitulate to those with money who want growth at any cost?

Affordable housing is at a crisis point, but this is not the way to address the issue. This is a problem disguised as a solution. It places financial gain for a small group above the community members who are the heart and soul of this town.

— Aaron Pitman, Whitefish

Vaccine mandate

Federal employees in Eureka and across the country, as well as many people employed in the private sector, are currently faced with the choice of taking the vaccine or losing their jobs. Although most people are not yet directly affected by these unconstitutional mandates, I would encourage you to fully support anyone who is standing up against this tyranny.

Regardless of your political views, or opinion on the vaccine, everyone in the country should be asking themselves one question: If the government can force my neighbor to put something in their body against their will this week, what valuable civil liberty of mine will they be taking away next week?

“When tyranny becomes law, rebellion become duty.” Thomas Jefferson.

— Todd Butts, Trego