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Resolution 2016-11, Minor Subdivision Review

It is the intent of the Montana Association of Counties to seek legislation to eliminate the unconstitutional provision preventing a governing body from holding a public hearing on a first minor subdivision.

WHEREAS, Article II, Section 8 of the Constitution of Montana requires government agencies to afford citizens a reasonable opportunity to participate prior to final government decisions; and

WHEREAS, as established in 47 Mont. Op. Atty. Gen. No. 13, public notice is required of any convening of a quorum of county commissioners at which any matter of significant public interest is to be discussed, deliberated, or determined.  Additionally the public must be given the opportunity to participate in any decision of the commission, other than ministerial acts, if there is any question whether the decision is of “significant interest to the public;” and

WHEREAS, in a meeting where a matter of significant public interest is at issue the governing body must comply with Section 2-3-111(1) Mont. Code Ann. and “must include a method of affording interested persons reasonable opportunity to submit data, views, or arguments, orally or in written form, prior to making a final decision that is of significant interest to the public;” and

WHEREAS, in their review of a first minor subdivision, as defined under Section 76-3-609(2) Mont. Code Ann., a county commission must, in addition to other requirements, evaluate the impact of the proposed subdivision on agriculture, agricultural water user facilities, local services, the natural environment, wildlife, wildlife habitat, and public health and safety. Evaluation of these criteria is not a ministerial act, and unmitigated impacts to these criteria have the ability to extend beyond the boundaries of the proposed subdivision, and as such, are of “significant interest to the public;” and

WHEREAS, House Bill 486, passed during the 2009 Legislative Session, changed the review process for first minor subdivisions by eliminating the ability of a governing body to hold a public hearing on such applications, even for applications that include variance requests. These changes were codified under sections 76-3-506(3) and 76-3-609(2)(e) Mont. Code Ann.; and

WHEREAS, these statutory requirements do not afford the public the same right of participation in minor subdivisions as major subdivisions. 

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Association of Counties will seek to establish legislation to allow the public hearing requirement for first minor subdivisions as is presently required for major subdivisions.


SPONSOR:  Gallatin County
REFERRED TO: MACo Land Use, Planning & Development Committee
ADOPTED:  Annual Conference, Billings, MT, September 21, 2016