Residents Ask for Doughnut Lawsuit Dismissal

By Beacon Staff

Two residents who were involved in drafting a revised interlocal agreement to govern the Whitefish planning doughnut have filed an amicus brief in Flathead County District Court to dismiss a lawsuit between the county and city despite requests by a third-party intervenor for it to proceed.

Diane Smith and Lyle Phillips have also asked the court to deny proposed new intervenors from joining the litigation.

Smith and Phillips were on a committee last year tasked with finding a non-litigious solution to the ongoing dispute between Flathead County and the city of Whitefish over jurisdictional authority in the extraterritorial doughnut area.

Through their attorney, Duncan Scott, Smith and Phillips are arguing that the revised interlocal agreement, which resulted from the committee’s efforts and was agreed upon by both the county and city, is enforceable.

Meanwhile, a citizens’ group has until April 12 to collect 707 signatures in order to place a referendum on the November ballot that would repeal the revised interlocal agreement. Scott argues that voter approval of the referendum would not necessarily terminate the agreement. Another option, according to Scott, is that the county could pursue cause of action against the city for breaching the agreement.

Three residents involved with grassroots efforts to repeal the agreement and create a community council have filed a motion – yet to be granted – to intervene in the lawsuit. They are Ed McGrew, Dan Weinberg and Richard Hildner.

Attorney Sean Frampton represents a third-party intervenor that is already recognized by the court. His clients are Elizabeth Arndt and Westridge Investments LLC. They wish for the current lawsuit to proceed. The amicus brief filed by Smith and Phillips states that the intervenor could file a new lawsuit, rather than continue the current one.

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