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Letters to the editor Jan. 17

| January 17, 2023 12:00 AM

Marijuana zoning ordinance

I am writing to acknowledge and address all the emails, text messages and telephone calls from citizens (both my supporters and non) concerned by the number, proximity and location of marijuana dispensaries in downtown Whitefish.

In 2020, the citizens of Montana passed I-190 legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use and the Legislature subsequently passed HB 701 further refining the program.

In 2021, the Whitefish City Council worked with city staff on an ordinance regulating the rules and standard to allow dispensaries within city limits (as well as manufacturing, cultivating, and testing facilities).

Ordinance 21-17 was approved and confirmed in second reading on Nov. 15 2021.

The core of the ordinance regarding “proximity” states:

“No marijuana facility is permitted from locales within 500’ of and addressed on the same street as a building used exclusively as a church or public school”

“Additionally, no marijuana facility shall be located on Spokane Avenue between Railway Street and East Second Street.”

“No marijuana dispensary may be located within 150’ of and addressed on the same street as another marijuana dispensary, with the exception that in the WB-1 and WB-2 zones, no marijuana dispensary may be located within 500’ of and addressed on the same street as another marijuana dispensary.”

At that meeting I made a public comment (I had been elected on that same Council but not yet sworn in) asking the Council to amend the ordinance by striking the wording “of and addressed on the same street as” out.

That would have prevented a loophole which would allow a dispensary and a church for example to be closer than 500 feet as long as their addresses are on different streets, in other words one around the corner from the other. My comment, which is on record in the meeting’s minutes, was ignored.

Now the public is realizing that we are having dispensaries located closer to a church or to each other than the 500 feet they thought, because their street addresses are different, and is raising concern and pressure to the city’s leadership.

My understanding is that the Council will work on this matter, with the aim of eventually amending the ordinance, at a work session on Feb. 6.

All public comments should be addressed to the city of Whitefish and can be emailed or presented in person during our meetings.

— Giuseppe Caltabiano is a Whitefish City Councilor.

Whitefish at its best

On Jan. 7, a big outpouring of love and support came out to celebrate the 75th birthday of Gary Cabell, longtime Whitefish resident and beloved member of our community. After a massive GoFundMe campaign (currently at $58,697), a huge group of longtime locals congregated at The Montana Tap House to celebrate, not only Gary, but the strength of our community as a whole.

It was an incredible experience. His granddaughter, Kimani Carson, sang a song for him, followed by a rousing “Happy Birthday” sing along. There was a raffle in which we raised another $3,342, and a beautiful cake. And many, many tears of love shared with people who hadn’t seen each other for a long time.

This night was Whitefish at its best: Loving, supportive, generous and fun!

So many local businesses supported this event and helped raise even more money to help Gary get the support and systems he needs to heal up. We want to thank each of you personally, and encourage everyone to support these businesses that really have all of our backs!

Whitefish Mountain Resort, The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, Grouse Mountain Lodge, Hertz Rent a Car, Big Mountain Botanicals, The Montana Tap House, Sure Water Systems, Flathead Wakeboard Academy, Flip Spinal Care, Kandahar Lodge, Box of Rain, Third Street Market, World Spice Merchants, Vibe Wellness Studio, Velvet Touch Energy Works, Glacier Guides & Montana Raft, Legend Soccer Company, Stumptown Snowboards, Black Star Brewery, Walking Man Gallery, Glacier World, Karen Minton Creative, Schellinger Construction, Backslope Brewing, Montana Coffee Traders. Haskill Creek Farms, Galaxy Glass, Yoga Hive Whitefish, Firefly Horse Wellness Retreat Center, Fermata Biofield Tuning, Whitefish Lake Golf Club, Casey’s Whitefish, Alternative Wellness Montana and Forage 406.

We’re going to keep this GoFundMe going, so please share the word with friends and family. Thank you for making the world a better place!

— Gary Cabell, Lauren Walker, Jesse Miller, Cara Lederman and David Laing

Joe’s Corvette

Another delicious Hollywood script awaits a starving public, eager for intrigue.

Old Joe, astride his classic Corvette, failing root implants swirling in the wind. Racing out of Delaware to places unknown, untraced — classified docs pouring from a faulty trunk latch.

A rusted heap in a polished sports car. Aviator glasses askew and his random spittle slapping Jill’s cheek as she white knuckles beside him.

It beats the humdrum White House departure via Marine helicopter of previous presidents.

— Gary Vinson, Kalispell

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