Tag Archives: citizen initiated zoning

Beartooth landowners file motion for summary judgment in zoning lawsuit

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Legal | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Op ed: The Stillwater County Commissioners aren’t doing their jobs

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

Posted in Shared Letters and Posts | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

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

Posted in Legal | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Latest developments in Beartooth Front Coalition lawsuit against Stillwater County

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

Posted in Legal | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why is Stillwater County spending tens of thousands of dollars on high priced out of state lawyers?

The Stillwater County Commissioners have retained a high-priced out-of-state law firm to defend a lawsuit filed against them by Beartooth Front landowners. Over 60% of the landowners in the area have petitioned the County to set up a citizen-initiated zone to regulate oil and gas drilling, in accordance with Montana law.

Why would they hire a firm from out of state? And why would they hire a firm with rates much higher than would be charged by an expert Montana firm? It’s impossible to tell for sure. There has been no public notice of any contractual relationship with an outside firm. A look at recent Commissioner agendas and meeting minutes makes no mention of a contract.

But a look at the facts shows that the Commissioners have gone out of their way not only to deprive local landowners of their rights, but to establish a precedent that will end citizen-initiated zoning in Montana. In doing so they will pave the way for the oil and gas industry to operate without regard for local communities. This agenda dovetails perfectly with the national agenda of the oil and gas industry.

To find out more about this law firm, click the link. Continue reading

Posted in Legal | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Last chance to tell the Stillwater Commissioners how you feel about proposed zoning policy

Writing letters makes a difference.

We saw it last week when the BLM backed off on a decision to sell oil leases on the Beartooth Front because of public opposition.

The Stillwater County Commissioners have decided to rewrite Montana state law to keep landowners from establishing reasonable protections from drilling. They need to hear that you think that’s a bad idea.

Tuesday, March 13 is the last day they will accept email comments.

Please click the link to find out what to do. It will only take a few minutes. Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Stillwater residents give County Commissioners an earful on proposed policy (video)

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

Posted in Community Organization, Politics and History | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

ACTION ALERT: Please contact the Stillwater County Commissioners to stop them from taking landowner rights

Not content just to block Beartooth Front landowners from setting regulations that would protect their own properties, the Stillwater County Commissioners have devised a policy that will forever keep any local landowners from using their rights under Montana state law. The policy will be voted on after a public hearing in Columbs at 9:30am on March 6.

The Commissioners tried to sneak this policy past the public on January 24, but were stopped when local landowners forced them to follow their own policy on public notice.

This is not a policy. It is just a way to keep landowners from exercising their rights under the law.

The Commissioners have asked for public comment. This is where you come in. Please click the link and let them know how feel. Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

Posted in Community Organization | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments