What occurred yesterday in Columbus is what happens when elected officials ignore the people who pay their salaries.
After four years of stonewalling the hundreds of landowners who petitioned to set up a citizen initiated zone along the Beartooth Front, the Commissioners held a public hearing on Tuesday on a proposed policy that would forever block any group from trying to do the same thing.
As you would expect, people took the opportunity to express their indignation, not only about the proposed policy, but about the pattern of excuses, inaction, and delay that had brought them to this point.
In a packed room, speaker after speaker stepped forward to express dissatisfaction with the Commissioners’ proposed policy, their unprecedented decision to require the signatures of mineral rights holders in a zoning petition, and their general unwillingness to accept the will of the people who are trying to protect a land they love.
Not a single speaker spoke in favor of the proposed policy.
It was a huge disappointment that Maureen Davey, one of the three commissioners, did not show up for the hearing because of a previously-scheduled meeting. Many in the crowd remarked on the continuing disrespect that this showed for the work that residents and landowners have done over the last several years. There was no urgency to the timing of the hearing, which could have been held at any time all three commissioners were available. As one attendee said, “This is why we’re in a courtroom instead of a meeting room figuring out the details of our zone.”
Linda Halstead-Acharya over at Last Best News did an excellent job of summarizing the points made by individual speakers. I recommend you take a look.
If you want to get a flavor of the emotion and shared commitment that is driving these folks to protect their land for the long term, you can watch a video of the entire hearing below. Tip of the hat to Cameron Clevidence for shooting and uploading it.
There is still time to write the Commissioners to let them know how you feel. Public responses will be accepted until March 13. Address:
Citizen initiated zoning, a way to restore fairness to oil and gas drilling in Montana
How to find out who owns the mineral rights to your land
Beartooth Front landowners present hundreds of signatures to Stillwater County Commissioners to set up oil and gas zoning district (with video)
Stillwater County Commissioners ignore County residents on issue after issue. This has to change.
Do mineral rights have anything to do with citizen initiated zoning in Montana?
Read the proposed citizen initiated zoning policy for Stillwater County.
Action Alert: Please contact the Stillwater County Commissioners to stop them from taking landowner rights
Breaking: Beartooth Front landowners file legal action against Stillwater Commissioners
Beartooth Front Zone update: Stillwater Commissioners turn their backs on locals who pay their salaries, support unknown outsiders