Saturday, April 01, 2023

Former Mayor, commissioner, responds

| March 8, 2023 2:00 AM

Recently there was an article in the local newspaper criticizing community involvement in local planning efforts, listing a “myriad of problems with community input.”

The author, Keegan Siebenaler, stated that “individuals who are older, male, long time residents” are the ones likely to participate in opposing large scale developments that don’t fit the character of their community.

The author continues to disparage those of us who protest untenable developments, saying we won’t live in the proposed apartments — the apartments I want my grandsons to be able to rent if they want — but we have discovered these are not affordable, but the new term (developer used) is “attainable housing.”

He also stated: “we must see through the outrage of a loud minority.” If he had attended our public hearings, he would have seen 300 diverse locals residents (and young people) who spoke out against an outrageous unaffordable monster of a subdivision.

Not just neighbors, but locals who know this type of development will ruin the character of our community. We are supportive of affordable sensible housing in our community (in the city limits). But plans to build on wetlands, (2-foot water table) drill under the river for sewer and water, and recent research has discovered that most (under river) sewer systems eventually fail. Also eliminating the century’s old wildlife corridor, a deficient traffic study, and next to a recent 772 Bad rock Canyon Wildlife Management area. One city council member stated they will allow a concrete slab over the wetlands and build on that…Why wouldn’t we protest the possibility of ruining our pristine Flathead river and our pristine lakes?

The city takes over once the developer is done so taxpayers will foot the bill when the sewer line fails. Reason enough to deny a large scale Florida developer’s subdivision. This same developer last week applied to develop over 100 acres across from the Water Slides on Highway 2.

It’s about the money friends and our community knows it, Why wouldn’t we protest? Mr. Siebenaler, you can criticize those of us involved in protesting unrealistic developments but we are unified and angry knowing that you and large scale developers could care less about our community character, our unique wildlife corridors and our Gateway to Glacier community, We will continue to educate decision makers and protest large-scale developers that are driven by money and opportunity without any knowledge of our heritage and environment.

Gary Hall/Former Columbia Falls Mayor and Flathead County Commissioner

Columbia Falls

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