Public Rails Against Interim Subdivision Regulations

By Beacon Staff

A public hearing last Tuesday night on Flathead County’s Interim Subdivision regulations drew heavy criticism from citizens, not only on the regulations, but for the short notice given on the hearing.

“We should have the common courtesy of being notified,” said Fred Hodgeboom.

Hodgeboom and others complained about the format of the hearing, in which the public could comment on the regulations to the county commission and Flathead County Planning Director Jeff Harris, but not ask questions or engage in discussion.

Portions of the draft regulations dealing with streamside setback, building in floodplains, near riparian watersheds or on steep slopes also drew fire from citizens.

“My question is, why do you think you have the right to tell me what I can do with what I worked for my whole life?” asked Russell Swindall.

Many also claimed confusion over whether the most contentious sections of the regulations could, or would, be changed.

“I have submitted written comments up to here that were totally ignored,” said Russ Crowder.

But not all opposed the regulations.

“I appreciate your courage in standing up to those who oppose all planning,” said Susannah Casey.

Adjourning the hearing, commissioners took no action, but said they would discuss ways in which they could have more informal “workshops,” instead of hearings on the subdivision regulations.

“I think the trust level probably has depleted in this county for public officials,” said Commissioner Dale Lauman. “I think we need to build that back up.”