I am enormously grateful to all who have recently thanked me for my efforts to protect the doughnut residents of Whitefish. As always your stories have been sincere, heartfelt and full of the concern for your community that I have so long admired. For those who may question my commitment to your property values, rights and clean water, I want to take this opportunity to set the record straight – again.
First, as a Flathead County commissioner my overriding commitment has always been to defend your property rights and property values, both from infringement from government, but also infringement from the rare, ill-spirited members of our community. This has never been easy, and it becomes increasingly difficult as our communities become more crowded and more opportunities for property infringement grow. I will always remain willing to listen, willing to learn, but I will not compromise on my promise to protect your property rights and your property values. My voting record the last five years clearly shows that.
Second, a recent full-page newspaper advertisement that attacks the commission’s consideration of proposed stream, river and riparian setbacks for Flathead County is full of misinformation and, frankly, insults the intelligence of our citizenry. Yes, the Flathead County commissioners are looking at setbacks; it is our responsibility to consider proposals to maintain water quality and the integrity of our property rights and values. The commission is using the state’s model as a template and the commission immediately pulled out the stream setback provision to have our planning board review it and seek public comment, which is currently underway. Our critics run advertisements using half-truths and fear to mislead county taxpayers and try to discredit the work of the commission. Not once in the past several years have our critics provided solutions or ideas to help us. Instead, they are always wagging the finger and making unsubstantiated accusations. Their silence allows a greater voice to those determined to stop growth and diminish our property rights, similar to what is currently happening with Whitefish and its adopted critical areas ordinance and growth policy.
I will continue to fight against those radical proposals until our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens say they want more regulation, less freedom and reduced property values. Until then, my position will be to oppose additional government regulation.
Lastly, our efforts to protect the doughnut resident from the Whitefish critical areas ordinance underscores the need for vigorous and continuing vigilance against community political leaders who believe that “they know better” that the citizens they represent.
I am doing everything within my ability to rescind the inter-local agreement allowing the city of Whitefish to regulate our county residents. These county residents should not be subject to Whitefish’s flawed and over-regulatory law, which greatly reduces their property values. I would go so far as to say, had the council and commission known in 2005 when we signed the agreement what lied ahead, we would never had approved it.
I have never believed that there are smarter advisors in the community than you. That is why I will continue to listen, I will continue to learn, but I will not compromise on fundamental beliefs and I will fight on your behalf when I believe those rights are threatened.
Gary Hall is a Flathead County commissioner