Comments Reviewed, More Public Participation

SVRPC Meeting

SWAN VALLEY - The Swan Valley Regional Planning Committee (SVRPC) decided how they would review and assess the public’s comments at their March 23 special meeting held at the Swan Valley Community Hall. This round of comments ended March 16.

The committee members agreed to divide and reread the comments to become familiar with them as they work through the draft’s wording at the next meeting. The SVRPC also agreed to project the plan draft on a screen at following public meetings as they edit the draft so it is visible to all in attendance.

“We [the SVRPC] need to get through the comments productively so that they are all addressed,” said SVRPC chair Cilla Moseley.

Moseley said no more comments will be considered until after the publicly revised draft based on residents’ comments is completed. However, at every SVRPC and Swan Valley Community Council (SVCC) there is always an open comment period for questions and discussion. Each comment will be noted and will be addressed at the next draft revision.

When the draft is revised, copies will be available to the residents online and at the Swan Valley library. Another public comment opportunity will be advertised. Residents will be able to submit comments at the SVCC or SVRPC meetings or email.

Moseley said every comment is online at the Missoula County website. There are more than 65 comments including interest from seasonal people.

“We all need to pay attention to the process [from now on]” said Moseley. She said that after the SVRPC is satisfied with their revised draft, it will go to the SVCC for revision and approval. The draft then will be submitted to Missoula Community and Planning Services (CAPS) followed by submission to the Missoula Planning Board and finally to the Missoula County Board of Commissioners. Once adopted by the Commissioners it will become part of the Missoula County Growth Plan.

“Show the county that you are concerned by showing up and submitting your comments. The draft is a suggested vision of how people living here would like to see the valley treated. The more people here the better,” said Moseley.

Some of the nearly 30 people present either added additional comments or questions for the committee.

Questions to the committee are in bold. The committee’s responses follow.

Can any group send in a comment? Anyone with a vested interest in the area may comment.

How is each comment weighted? The positive and negative comments and the corrections are considered. Whether the feedback is general or specific, it will be written as the majority wishes.

Committee member Diann Ericson said if a resident doesn’t see the change they wanted in the revised draft, comment again and be more specific.

How will the committee be regulated so it doesn’t lean to its own bias? Committee members are responsible to be impartial and do community work. This is the reason for open public meetings. The public needs to show up and see that the committee does it right. It shows the value of open meetings and participation in the process.

Is there a deadline to get the draft finished? There is no deadline. It needs to be in a timely manner in the committee’s timeframe. It will be finished when the community is satisfied.

Some residents had issues with how the text was written in the draft.

Swan Valley resident Dan Maloughney called attention to Section 2.5 Economic Development Goals, Policies and Actions in the draft. In number five, Maloughney asked what “encourages compatibly scaled businesses that will use “non-timber forest products” meant.

SVCC member Marcia Tapp said that the words “and timber” needed to be added after “non timber” to reduce the discriminatory slant to the sentence.

Resident Jesse Siloti disagreed with the statement in the draft in Section 2.1 Economic Activity in the Swan Valley, “while no data on retail sales capture rates could be readily found, it can be concluded anecdotally that the capture rate is quite low.” He suggested that the committee talk directly to the business owners in the area about their retail sales.

Moseley reminded the group that she and Dwayne Forder were retiring in May. Their SVRPC seats are under SVCC and need to be filled from the Council. Moseley recommended that existing members, not newly elected members, be appointed. She said the existing members are more familiar with the SVRPC process.

The next SVRPC meeting is April 13 at 7 p.m. at the Swan Valley Community Hall.


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