Yesterday landowners in the Silvertip Zone went before the County Commissioners to clarify their understanding of upcoming meetings and their expectations for the County Commissioners response to their zoning petition.
It was a spirited back and forth, with County Commissioners Doug Tucker and John Grewell stating that they believe the Silvertip landowners have the right to establish a zone as long as it is done correctly and in accordance with the law. Commissioner John Prinkki was not at the meeting.
The Commissioners promised to have a response to the petition at their regular meeting on Thursday morning. The agenda item is scheduled for 9:30am at the County Administration Building.
The Commissioners also affirmed that they plan to hold a public meeting tomorrow night (Wednesday, September 17) at 7:00 at Belfry School, where local residents will have the opportunity to be heard on the issue of drilling in that area. The Commissioners decided to hold the meeting in the evening to accommodate residents who are harvesting and not able to attend regular morning meetings.
Here is video of that discussion:
Where we are in the process
Local residents of the Silvertip area in Belfry have been working for many months to put together a citizen-initiated zone, as set forth in Montana law in MCA 76-2-101. Here’s where we are in the process:
- Any interested group of land owners in a county can create a zone. It is a democratic process. If 60% of the land owners in an area want to create the zone, it can be brought forward to the County Commission. COMPLETE
- A zone map must be created to reflect the properties to be included in the zone and define the perimeter of the zone. COMPLETE
- Each landowner who supports the district needs to sign a petition. The signature must match exactly the name on the title of the land. COMPLETE AND VERIFIED
- When more than 60% of the landowners in the district have signed the petition, it can be brought to the County Commission. COMPLETE
- After the County Commission receives the petitions, it forms a planning and zoning commission. This is a seven member oversight board that reviews the zoning petition and recommends how it should be implemented, and holds a public meeting to determine whether the zone is in the “public interest and convenience.” If so, the zone is established. NEXT STEP: County Commission to provide response to petition at regular County Commission meeting on Thursday, September 18.
- The rules of the zone must be drafted to be consistent with the county growth plan
- After opportunities for public input, the planning and zoning commission drafts regulations and submits them to the Commissioners for approval.
- The planning and zoning commission is responsible for the ongoing administration of the district.
Please attend these meetings if you can. Public input into this process is important.