Thursday, December 02, 2021

Insist on no more growth

| November 17, 2021 1:00 AM

I’m writing to protest against the 330-plus unit development that is being considered for the intersection of East Lakeshore Drive and Big Mountain Road, and also against its supporters who gleefully rub their hands while declaring, “You can’t stop growth!”

Well, I beg to differ. I’ve lived in Whitefish for more than 40 years and I believe we should have insisted, “no more growth,” two decades ago. For reasons I don’t understand, our city fathers and planning boards have continuously rubber-stamped development after development, until our peaceful, friendly town has become a nightmare of blocks-long traffic jams and packed sidewalks. This new project (and the ones that inevitably will follow) will only make these problems much worse.

I moved to Whitefish in 197 from a similar small resort town in California, and shortly after they instigated a slow-growth policy, and that policy is still in effect today including a ban on buildings taller than two stories and no fast-food restaurants. Since then, Ojai has blossomed culturally and business0wise while still maintaining its small-town flavor (even though it’s only a hundred miles north of L.A.) and traffic jams are so rare that they become talking points.

If we allow this current development to be approved, then what will follow? Multi-level hotels lining the shores of Whitefish Lake? More condo developments downtown? More gated communities? Restricted numbers of permits to float the Flathead? More kowtowing to big-money developers to create abominations like the covered passageway over Wisconsin Avenue, which seemed to have been built with no public comment whatsoever?

I beg all Whitefish residents who remember and cherish how our town used to be, to urgently instruct our city fathers and planning boards, “Stop right there — enough is enough!” If we don’t, then unrestricted growth will continue to explode, and all us old-time locals might as well move out.

Colin Sellwood, Whitefish