Whitefish leaders ask for discipline of planning board members


KALISPELL, Mont. - Whitefish City Council members and the mayor have signed a letter asking County Commissioners to either remove Rita Hall and Greg Stevens from the Planning Board or have them recuse themselves on decisions involving Whitefish.


During a county planning board meeting May 10, Hall said, "We have the Whitefish Nazis overseeing what we're doing right here. Excuse me for stepping on anybody's toes. But even so, the Whitefish Nazis are watching us very, very carefully."

In the same meeting Stevens said, "It's obvious what the hell is going on. People in the city are trying to foist their future land maps upon the county residents. They are protecting those businesses inside the city limits of Whitefish, and they are stifling every kind of business outside the city limits of Whitefish. That's what's going on."

Over the past 10 years Whitefish and the county have battled for planning authority for land outside the city, known as the doughnut.

Ultimately, after a decision by the Montana Supreme Court, the county won the right to plan the area.

Currently the county is deciding on a future plan, and the city has offered input so that any action by the county is in line with the future growth policy.

Whitefish Councilwoman Jen Frandsen said they don't believe planning board members Hall and Stevens can be impartial in their decision making.

"That's a problem," Frandsen told NBC Montana. "When the planning board is entirely responsible for this decision, I think that every voice needs to be heard and respected."

Flathead Commissioner Gary Krueger said he was "disturbed" by the comments but said he can't provide a decision at this point. He's still reviewing the facts and said he's given the letter to the county attorney for input.

Some people like Dave Christiana say Whitefish leaders are taking a step too far. "We're an open society," Christiana said. "Free speech is one of our rights to the constitution."

But Frandsen says, as a representative of the people in Whitefish, the council sees only one solution.

"It's our intent to work with the commissioners to try to create a better relationship, and I hope that they see the issue that we do," Frandsen said.

We reached out to the planning board. So far we haven't received a response.?