- Beartooth landowners victorious in lawsuit against Stillwater County
- PLEASE NOTE: Change in Zoom access code for today’s hearing
- Action alert: Watch court hearing on Zoom, Thursday, 2:00 pm
- Action alert: Stillwater County Planning Board meeting, Wed, 9/4, 7pm
- Must attend! Stillwater County Planning Board: Wednesday, August 7, 7pm
Click to see the Preserve the Beartooth Front video
Tag Archives: Beartooth Front Coalition
In a long-awaited decision, District Judge Matthew Wald ruled yesterday in favor of Beartooth Front landowners in their suit against Stillwater County. The landowners are seeking to establish a citizen-initiated zone that would place reasonable regulation on future oil and gas drilling along the Beartooth Front in southern Stillwater County.
Judge Wald granted the landowners’ request for summary judgment against the County, and denied the County’s motion. In doing so, he ruled unambiguously that the County was not justified in requiring the landowners to obtain signatures from minerals owners in addition to surface landowners. His ruling also stated that the County had set up an unworkable method of evaluating the landowners’ petitions that was in violation of the County’s own rules.
The September meeting of the Stillwater County Planning Board will be held in Columbus on Wednesday, September 4 at the Stillwater County Pavilion (known as Little Metra) on the County Fairgrounds at 328 E. 5th Avenue North in Columbus.
This meeting will likely be a tough one for us, since we do not have a defined place on the agenda. We presented our draft regulations at the last meeting, and much of this meeting will be devoted to reaction to those regulations. This is why it is important for us to continue to come out in force for these meetings. This will be a long process, and we need to be out in front at every juncture.
Here is how you can be in action: Continue reading
The next meeting of the Stillwater County Planning Board will be held this Wednesday, August 7, at the Stillwater County Pavilion in Columbus at 7pm. Please plan to attend. This is a critical meeting at which the Board will consider a draft set of regulations on a county initiated zone along the Beartooth Front in southern Stillwater County.
It is important for proponents to be in attendance and voice their support. It is expected that there will be opposition to the zone in attendance.
Note that the meeting is at a new location. The Stillwater County Pavilion is at 328 E. 5th Avenue in Columbus.
Click on the link to read the proposed regulations and view a presentation that shows the base standards the landowners are asking for.
Please try to attend if you can. We are at the critical stages of winning approval for this project that landowners have worked toward for six years. We need to show Stillwater County officials that your support for our efforts is unwavering. 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.
Beartooth Front landowners last week filed the critical brief in their lawsuit against the Stillwater County Commissioners. It outlines their argument for why landowners alone, without the approval of minerals owners, should be able to establish a citizen-initiated zoning district. The argument lies at the heart of a central tension in Montana law: the self-determination of landowners to decide what happens on their own property vs. the importance of mineral extraction to the state economy.
Assuming there are no extensions, the County will have 21 days to respond, and then the landowners will have 14 days to reply. That will put the end of briefings in early October. Our attorney has asked for a hearing on the motion, and we are hopeful that Judge Jones will conduct the hearing and issue a ruling on our motion before the end of the year.
To read more, click the link.
This op ed appeared in the Stillwater County News on August 23, 2018.
“The Commissioners aren’t doing their jobs. Instead of trying to make new law on behalf of the oil and gas industry, what they should be doing is working with Stillwater landowners to protect the Beartooth Front.” Continue reading
Judge Blair Jones issued his first ruling today in the lawsuit Beartooth Front Coalition et al. vs. Board of Commissioners, Stillwater County. He ruled in favor of the landowners, denying the County’s motion for a summary judgment in their favor.
To find out more and read Judge Jones’ ruling, click the link. Continue reading
There was a familiar look to the gallery at the hearing Thursday in the Stillwater County Courthouse in Columbus. In the case of Beartooth Front Coalition et al vs. Stillwater County Commissioners, there were, by my count, 56 people there in support of the Beartooth Front Coalition, which is suing Stillwater County to establish a citizen-initiated zone to regulate land use related to oil and gas along the Beartooth Front.
They were easy to identify. They all knew each other. They are neighbors in southern Stillwater County, many from families that have been there for generations, who signed a petition to establish the zone. They greeted each other by name, offered encouragement, expressed resolve to be successful in the suit.
To find out what happened at the hearing (with photo), click the link. Continue reading
Action Alert: Please attend hearing on Stillwater County landowner lawsuit, Thursday, July 26, 1:30pm
The next step in the Beartooth Front Coaltion lawsuit against the Stillwater County Commissioners is a hearing in front of Judge Blair Jones. The hearing will be held at the Stillwater County Courthouse in Columbus on Thursday, July 26 at 1:30 pm.
This step is the first of several hearings in this case. If the landowners are successful in their suit, the ultimate outcome will be for the Commissioners to hold a hearing to consider the petition. It is critical for them to see evidence at every step of the way that landowners stand firm in their demand that their rights be protected.
Please come if you can.
To read more about the suit and the hearing, click the link. Continue reading
Stillwater County’s out of state law firm wasted no time in responding to the Beartooth Front Coalition’s lawsuit against Stillwater County by filing a motion to dismiss the suit. The petitioners have responded, and the case is in motion. This post summarizes the arguments put forward in the case so far, with links to the court documents.
Click the link to find out the details. Continue reading