SB 294 by Senator Jon Esp (R-Big Timber) purports to bring “Part 2 county zoning” (zoning initiated by the county itself) into compliance with Williams v Missoula County, a Montana Supreme Court case which held unconstitutional the delegation of “veto power” to large tract landowners without a so-called legislative bypass, as there is with municipal zoning. This is accomplished via Section 2 of the bill, which does away entirely with “protest” rights and instead allows public “comment” to be considered by the commissioners as they are required to do in most other instances.
The problematic provision of this bill, however, is Section 1. This section would provide a mechanism to limit a referendum to “electors residing in the district” which would arguably exclude electors subject of municipal zoning within a county. This disenfranchises the many concerned county electors not in the “district” but who are still impacted by zoning decisions.
Passed the Senate and transmitted to the House.
Derf Johnson, djohnson[@]meic.org