- Action alert: Stillwater County Planning Board meeting, Wed, 9/4, 7pm
- Must attend! Stillwater County Planning Board: Wednesday, August 7, 7pm
- Stillwater County News: “Workable framework” adopted for potential southern county zone
- Action alert: Your attendance needed at Stillwater County Planning Board meeting, July 3, 2019
- Action alert: New developments in landowner lawsuit against Stillwater County; what you can do to help
Click to see the Preserve the Beartooth Front video
Search Results for: citizen initiated zoning
This morning residents of the Silvertip community in Belfry will be presenting a zoning petition to the Carbon County Commission. Please go to support them if you can (details here). The petition is the result of months of hard work … Continue reading
All briefs have now been filed in the Carbon County case before the Montana Supreme Court. In the case, Belfry landowners have challenged the Carbon County Commission’s rejection of their petition for land use regulations to protect their private properties from the harmful effects of oil and gas drilling.
The Supreme Court has previously agreed to review the case. The Court will now decide whether to schedule a hearing or make a decision after reviewing the briefs.
This case is important because Montana law affords few protections to landowners against damages that can occur when oil and gas activity takes place near their homes. Citizen initiated zoning (CIZ) is one of the few opportunities Montana citizens have to establish local regulations to protect their properties. It has been used effectively in places like Bozeman and Great Falls to establish regulations to protect citizens.
Yet that process is badly flawed. The Silvertip zoning case currently before the Supreme Court exposes some of the problems with the process. Silvertip landowners worked to meet all CIZ requirements. Their petitions were accepted by the Carbon County Commissioners, who then made the decision, after multiple public hearings, that the zone was “in the public interest and convenience,” as required by law.
Subsequent events that led the Commissioners to reverse their decision exposed some significant ambiguities in the process that will affect landowners in other counties. Cases like the current one can help to make the CIZ process more clearly defined in law so that the Silvertip landowners, as well as landowners in other communities, can take advantage of CIZ provisions to protect their properties.
To read more about the case and review briefs that have been filed, click the link. Continue reading
At its meeting on Wednesday, the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC) decided not to take up rulemaking for setbacks. Instead, they created a review panel to consider the issue. This is another example of a Montana state agency running roughshod over the rights of surface owners, whose only recourse is local regulation.
The record speaks for itself. The state of Montana has no interest in setting up reasonable protections for landowners from oil and gas drilling. It is up to local landowners to do it themselves, using provisions for citizen initiated zoning established in Montana law. Continue reading
Mr. Dockery is welcome to have an opinion about the way citizen initiated zoning should work or not work. If he and John Mork want to spend lots of money to go to the Montana Supreme Court to try to get them to agree to disenfranchise local land owners, they are welcome to do so. Continue reading
Stillwater County landowner lawsuit update: County runs out the clock on Judge Jones; hearing set for January 16
In the three months since my last update on the Beartooth Front landowners’ lawsuit against the Stillwater County Commissioners, the Commissioners have carefully followed a familiar path — delay, delay, delay. The result is that a new judge will have to hear the case, likely resulting in more delays down the road.
The landowners filed the suit last February after the Commissioners denied a petition to set up a citizen-initated zone to regulate oil and gas drilling in southern Stillwater County. The Commissioners ruled that the petition did not qualify, even though it met the legal requirement of the signatures of 60% of the landowners in the proposed zone. According to the Commissioners, the petitioners needed the signatures of 60% of the minerals owners in the proposed zone in addition to the landowners.
Delays are nothing new in this case. The landowners originally submitted their petition in November, 2015, and the County has taken every opportunity to avoid complying with the law and granting the petition, which would put reasonable regulations on drilling, not ban it.
This is a request for action from those of you in Stillwater County. The County is in the process of updating its growth plan, last updated in 2007. They have done a poor job of soliciting input from the public, and the current draft of the plan is inadequate in many areas.
Comments are due no later than THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22, so please act quickly. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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 doing 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.
To read more and watch video of the hearing, click the link. Continue reading
Make your voice heard TODAY. Tell the Stillwater County Commissioners how you feel about landowner rights
Please make your voice heard. The Stillwater County Commissioners will be holding a public hearing to consider their proposed policy for citizen initiated zoning. The proposed policy is not a policy at all, but a thinly-veiled attempt to keep any … Continue reading
Beartooth Front zone update: Stillwater Commissioners turn their backs on locals who pay their salaries; support unknown outsiders
A portion of this post will appear in the Opinion section of the Stillwater County News on Thursday, February 1.
By rejecting a petition of over 550 landowners to establish the Beartooth Front Zoning District, the Stillwater Commissioners this week, after three years of inaction, delays, and excuses, have decided to turn their backs on the people who pay their salaries to stand up for unknown outside interests.
To do this they had to make up new law that has never been used in a single one of the 111 existing citizen initiated zones that have been established in Montana over the last 65 years.
It’s hard to imagine why they would want to spend precious County resources to defend this fantasy law in court against local landowners who have spent three years coming up with a plan that has received the overwhelming support of their neighbors. But that’s what they’re going to have to do unless they come to their senses pretty quickly.
To find out more, and to learn what you can do to help, click the link. Continue reading