Judge Dismisses Doughnut Lawsuit

By Beacon Staff

On Tuesday, a Flathead County District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit between Whitefish and Flathead County, the latest move in an ongoing dispute over land-use authority in the so-called planning doughnut.

Judge Katherine Curtis granted the city and county’s joint summary motion to dismiss their lawsuit against each other, which dates back to 2008. That original lawsuit was filed by Whitefish after county commissioners voted to rescind a 2005 interlocal agreement that outlined jurisdiction in the doughnut.

Curtis also denied three separate motions by an existing intervenor and two proposed intervenors.

In her ruling, Curtis argued that since the county and city agreed upon a revised interlocal agreement last year, the points raised by both parties and the intervenors in the current lawsuit are moot.

“The dispute between the City and County as well as any dispute raised by Intervenors,” Curtis wrote, “all involve and arose solely from the 2005 agreement. That agreement is void and is clearly superseded by the 2010 agreement.”

“Any dispute any party may have with the 2010 agreement,” she continued, “must be brought in a separate proceeding.”

The future of the 2010 agreement, however, is unclear. In late June, the Flathead County Commission voted unanimously to give Whitefish a one-year notice of termination of the agreement. Also, Whitefish voters in November will decide whether repeal the 2010 agreement.

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