The efforts of landowners in southern Stillwater County to guarantee long-term protection of their land has generated a lot of media coverage locally and across Montana over the last several weeks. The reason is clear — the landowners’ lawsuit against the County has long-term implications not only locally, but for landowner rights across the State.
In addition to this coverage, local residents deluged the Commissioners with dozens of letters opposing their position on citizen-initiated zoning.
This post provides links to published articles and letters.
March 22 – Stillwater County News, CIZ petitioners take on proposed petition guidelines
by Mikaela Koski (pdf1, pdf2)
“Your proposed policy does not enable ‘We the People’ in this room, but instead insures that we will never have a voice in your government. – Charles Sangmeister”
March 7 – Preserve the Beartooth Front, Stillwater residents give Commissioners an earful on proposed policy (video)
“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.”
March 6 – Last Best News, Residents pan county’s proposed zoning guidelines
by Linda Halstead-Acharya
“Bill Peterson of Nye …pointed out what seemed obvious to everyone present. ‘I thought it was interesting that there were no proponents, he said.”
March 1 – Stillwater County News, Citizen Initiated Zoning Petition Battle Reaches Court, by Mikaela Koski
“(The) lawsuit…argues that the group was never told, throughout the 3-year petition process, that the signatures of mineral rights owners would be necessary for the petition.”
February 28 – Billings Gazette, Petition to regulate oil, gas development in south-central Montana was unfairly denied, landowners’ lawsuit claims, by Matt Hudson
“(N)o other citizen-initiated zoning district in Montana has required signatures from mineral rights holders. Missoula and Ravalli counties both have dozens of these districts.”
Carried in Helena Independent Record and the Missoulian.
February 27, Yellowstone Public Radio, Residents Suing Stillwater County, Concern Over Possible Oil Drilling Near Bearthooth Front.
“’It’s not unusual to be working with a mineral extractor or an oil extractor to come up with ways to address problems that might arise,’ says Bill Hand of Nye.”
2/27/18 – Last Best News, Citizens Sue Stillwater County Officials Over Zoning Issue,
by Ed Kemmick
“Stillwater County residents had used citizen-initiated zoning once before, when the Stillwater Mine was being developed almost 40 years ago. The district established then was used to regulate mining activities and later led to the legally binding Good Neighbor Agreement between the mine and area residents.”
2/8/18 – Stillwater County News, Petition Issue Pointing Toward Litigation
by Mikaela Koski
“Our goal with the Beartooth Front CIZ petition is to ensure southern Stillwater County’s unique quality of life and agricultural prosperity will be preserved and passed down to future generations”
2/1/18 – Stillwater County News, Petition Deemed Invalid, Possible Lawsuit Against County in the Works by Mikaela Koski
“Joan Brownell, a Fishtail resident, gave a detailed timeline of the four-year petition process in which the Beartooth Front Group has been involved. This time period included instances of the petitioning group receiving changing instructions from the county on how to collect signatures.
March 7 – Billings Gazette, Stillwater commission forces lawsuit to protect our rights
by David Katz and Lana Sangmeister, Nye
“In denying the petition in January, the commissioners turned their backs on years of grass roots effort by local taxpayers trying to protect their land. Their decision jeopardizes the rights of landowners across Montana.”
Letters to the Editor
March 15 – Stillwater County News, Ex-Commissioner Weighs in on CIZ
by Dennis Hoyem, Nye
“I asked the Commissioners to suspend ‘political expediency’ in their information gathering and deliberations because of its typical and frequent shortcomings.”
March 8 – Stillwater County News, “What Tangled Webs We Weave…”
By Dan Burkhart, Fishtail
“Let’s insist they do the fair thing and create a zoning district more than a majority of residents in the area want. Let’s not let extractive resource companies treat us like third world populations where the potential for profit outweighs the public good.”
February 8 – Stillwater County News, “Disappointing Petition Decision”
By Frank Willett, Fishtail
“Our commissioners put a ridiculous task in front of the petitioners in order to deny the petition. They apparently view petitioners as a force to oppose rather than citizens to help.”
February 8 – Stillwater County News, “Stillwater Commissioners Turn Backs on Beartooth Landowners” by David Katz, Nye
“Beartooth Front landowners are trying to establish reasonable regulations on oil and gas drilling to preserve their community for the future….It’s hard to imagine why the Commissioners want to spend precious resources to prove a fantasy legal theory in court against (them).”