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SB 147, Revise Local Government Review in Regards to Impact on Surrounding Agricultural Operations 76-3-608


Posted Date: 
January 24, 2013
Contact: 
Tara DePuy, MACo JPIA Land Use Attorney

Read the Bill:  HTML  |  PDF  |  Additional Information

This bill is a portion of HB 542 in 2011 session vetoed by Governor.  The bill changes the primary review criteria for “impact on agriculture” to “impact of proposed subdivision on surrounding agricultural operations.”

This bill was sponsored by Senator Ed Buttrey.  The sponsor of the bill stated the bill is a clarification of what the impact on agriculture means as some counties are reviewing the removal of property from agricultural production and imposing conditions on the developer to mitigate the loss of agricultural property.  This is a Montana Association of Realtors bill and they stated that the impact on ag has been misinterpreted and abused in that counties are attempting to preserve framing at the expense of the farmer when farming may no longer be economically feasible.  The Montana Building Industry, the Montana Association of Registered Land Surveyors, the Missoula Realtors Association and several citizens from Missoula County spoke in favor of the bill, some of whom are farmers or ranchers.  The Ravalli and Jefferson County Commissions supported the bill but questioned whether the word “surrounding” agricultural operations should be changed to “adjacent” agricultural operations.  MACo supported the bill in that most counties review the impact to ag as the impact on surrounding/adjacent agricultural operations. 

Opponents included the Farmers Union who cited from a University of Montana Land Use Clinic 2011 report to Missoula County that provides the legislative intent for 76-3-608 and states that the intent of the legislature since 1975 has been to interpret the word agriculture in a “broad” sense.  The City of Missoula, Smart Growth and the Montana Association of Planners opposed the bill stating the determining what the impact on agriculture is a local control issue and local government should have the flexibility to determine what the impact is based on the unique circumstances in their community.  Other opponents included citizens who testified it is difficult to find ag land to farm on and other special interest groups concerned about the loss of farming/agriculture lands in Montana.

Questions from the committee includes focused on whether the bill should be amended from “surrounding” to adjacent and Missoula County’s work to adopt a county agricultural policy.

Additional Information: 
  • Heard before Senate Local Government on January 23, 2013.
  • Executive Action Scheduled:  January 25, 2013
  • MACo Executive Committee Recommendation – Support
Tara DePuy | 406.223.1803 | attorney@riverworks.net