By Colleen Kesterson

A Little Headway on Land Use Element

Swan Valley Regional Planning Committee


SWAN VALLEY - The Swan Valley Regional Planning Committee (SVRPC) made a little progress editing two paragraphs in the Land Use element of the draft document at the May 10 meeting. Committee members also discussed adding an appendix to the document to supply further information and decided on officers for the coming year.

The committee finished the section entitled Regulatory Framework with all committee members but one accepting two sentences in the last paragraph of the original draft. It reads “As set forth in the judgment handed down by the Montana Supreme Court in Heffernan versus City of Missoula, in making a land use decision the governing body must be ‘guided by and give due consideration to’ an adopted growth policy. However, the growth policy cannot be applied in a ‘regulatory’ fashion.”

Committee member Dwayne Forder voted in opposition. He said he thought that attorney Colleen Dowdall removed those sentences in her edits because of potential legal ramifications. The other members agreed with member Diann Ericson who said, “It is an affirmation that the county has to pay attention to what the plan says.”

SVRPC members also unanimously voted to accept Dowdall’s rewording of the first paragraph of the following section entitled Asset Based Approach to Future Development. It now reads “In order to guide future development while still protecting the character and qualities that people of the Upper Swan value, this plan recommends a qualitative system for residential and non-residential development based upon outcomes. This system is intended as a guide for Missoula County, in making land use decisions. This system is not regulatory, but should be used with decision-making criteria set forth in state law and/or other long-range plans and policies. By following this guide, the land development review process can be made more efficient and predictable for developers and residents. This plan is intended as a powerful statement of the community’s vision and values; and a statement that should be taken into account in the county’s long range planning, setting of budgetary priorities and program development.”

The committee members discussed member Diann Ericson’s suggestion to add information that was removed from the draft plan to an appendix. Chair Ken Donovan was not in favor of an appendix. Donovan said that it would make the document “too wordy.”

Alternate member Sara Halm said, “We need to trim the document. I don’t think it is a good use of our time.”

Member Pat Sinz said she would like to see what it would contain and to review it before the committee members voted to include it. “It is hard to visualize it,” she added.

The committee voted to put on the agenda Ericson’s presentation as to what information would be added to an appendix of the draft plan at the next meeting May 24. It will be held at the Swan Valley Community Hall at 7 p.m.

The SVRPC voted Ericson as vice chair and to retain Loretta Thomas as committee secretary. They also agreed to recommend Donovan to remain as the chair to the Swan Valley Community Council at the May 24 meeting.


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