Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Reasons to annex limited

| May 5, 2021 1:00 AM

I read with interest the article regarding Whitefish annexing parcels on U.S. Highway 93 and I have some thoughts.

The reasoning presented by Councilor Frank Sweeney and Councilor Andy Feury to annex parcels south of Montana 40 are flawed. As anyone who has traveled Highway 93 around that intersection knows that ship has sailed years ago and therefore this purported desire to protect the beauty of the area and somehow control it would not really be effective or substantial. As few berms, trees and stone facades would not change the aesthetics of Highway 93.

There is no need to annex any property unless they assist the City of Whitefish in solving the many pressing issues facing the town (housing, growth management, traffic, etc.) and any time and costs related to this effort should be redirected to issues inside the city limits if commercial zoning is the end result.

However, the 11-acre tract on the northwest corner of 93 and 40 could be a positive addition if it could be zoned high density (lower rents) multi-family. Located at a lighted intersection on the southern edge of town this addition could make a substantial impact in helping the city provide median income housing and it fits in well with the current boundaries.

I also believe any annexation should be put on the ballot for the citizens to vote on in the spirit of transparency, to minimize any special interest maneuvers and because it is a radical change from past policies.

I do find it remarkable that as Gov. Greg Gianforte eviscerates the Whitefish workforce housing program it was announced that the same far right developer class that wrote, paid for and destroyed the initiative is now asking the city (whose collective values they loathe) to provide them with windfall profits of millions of dollars by asking for the gift of annexation.

Greg Strong, Whitefish