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Whitefish Council Tables Vote on Snow Beacons

By Beacon Staff

WHITEFISH – At its Jan. 3 meeting, the Whitefish City Council tabled a vote on whether to allow two blinking snow beacons on top of the Great Northern Brewing Company that would indicate either inversions or powder days at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

While all councilors appeared to appreciate the concept, some were unsure that the beacons meet required criteria to be granted a sign code variance, including proof of hardship. City Attorney Mary VanBuskirk echoed the same concern, saying the city didn’t want to appear to be acting in an “arbitrary or capricious” manner.

One option the city could consider is a zoning text amendment, while VanBuskirk said another option is moving the beacons to a neutral government location, such as City Hall. The applicant, Marcus Duffey from the Great Northern Brewing Company, said he would support such a move.

“I have to say it’s a compliment that the city likes it enough to take it as its own if we don’t qualify,” Duffey said.

The council voted unanimously to table the vote until a later date to allow time for researching options. Everybody who spoke during public comment supported the proposal, which calls for two internally lit beacons that would be about a foot tall each. Nick Polumbus of Whitefish Mountain Resort expressed his support to the council, saying the beacons would “celebrate what’s unique about Whitefish.”

During ski season, the amber beacon would either blink or remain lit continuously between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. on days when Whitefish Mountain Resort has an inversion and the blue beacon would either blink or remain lit continuously between the same hours when the mountain has received six or more inches of snow the night before, according to a city staff report.

“We think this is an idea that will benefit not only the mountain but the city of Whitefish,” Duffey said.