On Gravel Pits, Emergency Zoning, Mike Sehestedt and “Spot Zoning”

by jhwygirl

I will admit I didn’t fully read through the Missoulian’s article on the proposed Lolo gravel pit before I posted this the other day. Not only did I know exactly where DEQ was coming from (after I read the first few lines), but I also knew that the Missoula Board of County Commissioners knew of the previous state legislation regarding gravel pits, and have failed to act to prevent exactly that which is proposed in Lolo.

And that was over 2 years ago.

Plus the idea that the BCC would push for DEQ to hold public meetings, I saw, as a way of passing-the-buck….all things considered when you understand their knowledge concerning gravel pits and zoning. It made them look like they were trying to do something about it – placating the public – when, in fact, they’ve not done anything for over 2 years. Blame it on DEQ (yeah, that’s who’s fault it is!)

That’s the curmudgeon in me, I guess.

So I finally read through the Missoulian piece, and I see where land-use attorney and Lolo resident Myra Shults has asked the county commissioners to emergency zone the neighborhoods that sandwich the proposed JTL gravel pit site. Seems she’s gathered signatures too – although I don’t know how many. Given the large attendance at a Lolo community meeting last week, I’d say she’s probably got more than a few.

Ms. Shults has presented the county commissioners with two petitions – one to emergency zone, the other for permanent zoning.

County Attorney Mike Sehestedt, it appears, is concerned that the petitions might amount to “spot zoning” – he is, as the paper reports, looking into whether zoning a small portion of Lolo could be challenged as “spot zoning.”

Upon hearing that, I’d think that Ms. Shults has continued to gather more signatures.

But I can’t help but wonder – If zoning a small portion of Lolo is “spot zoning” – does that make all the Citizen-Initiated Zoning Districts that Missoula County “spot zoned?” I mean, how many of those were there? 44? 45? They’re everywhere. Are those “spot zoned,” those small areas all over the county?

Here’s a page from Missoula Office of Planning and Grants (remember, Google is your friend) with information on citizen-initiated zoning districts.

I wait with baited breath, Mr. Sehestedt’s opinion………

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  1. Binky Griptight

    I have to wonder if it makes a difference that JTL is involved, given the extensive relationships they have with this community and with the BCC? They have contributed so much over the years and I am sure that the Commissioners are aware of that.

  2. You would be correct to wonder, Binky.

    But contributed what? The have a business here and bid competitively and sold their product and services on city/county projects just like everyone else that operates a business.

    Hell, with that standard, the BCC and city would owe a hell of a lot of favors.

  3. goof houlihan

    Spot zoning is a real concern. Is the zoning compatible with the growth document?

    Zoning areas, versus a particular plot of land, is another test. Sometimes the zoning applies to a single owner’s property–and that is certainly spot zoning.

    Finally, zoning to keep out a particular thing, that is permitted now, could be construed as spot zoning.

  4. Bryan Garner

    Baited breath? Ewww.

  5. JC

    Worms, grasshoppers?

  6. jhwygirl

    ahhh – my deficiencies with Shakespeare are showing.

    “bated”, it appears, would be the correct word.

    Hey – even I can be wrong once in a while! :-)

  7. No, JC, Power Bait!

  8. I’m not sure what was proposed goof – so I don’t know if it meets the comp plan. Given that she is identified as a land use attorney, I’d have to think that she probably proposed something that, at a minimum, prohibited commercial development. That would comply with the comp plan designation for the area.

    There are at least 3 existing pits in the area.

    Highway 12 is a pretty nice road too – well-traveled with tourist. I know we need gravel for development, I just think that putting one there really isn’t a good idea.

    JTL got the bid on the state project for hwy 12 – obviously they bid it knowing they had gravel and that it would have to travel from x distance, etc….it’s damn near rocket science to put together a bid on a project utilizing federal funds.

    I don’t see it as legitimate to utilize the project as an excuse for the pit.

  9. JC

    it’s damn near rocket science to put together a bid on a project utilizing federal funds.

    And if they did an EA on the project, then they should have considered the gravel pit of its contractor as a connected action. Gives the public a nice place to give some needed input into projects like this, and some leverage.

  10. Excellent point JC.

    First, though, I would point out that JTL has already been awarded the contract – certainly they wouldn’t have based their costs on a hypothetical at-the-time non-existent gravel pit (?), right?

    But “connected action” is indeed key – some EA would have had to have been done – in fact, since it was a MDOT project, with federal funds, you’d have to think that both a state EA and a NEPA would have had to have been done.

    And a new gravel pit, indeed, would seem to me to quality as a “connected action.”

    But DEQ, though, should be doing a state EA for its review, right?

    “Mitigation” – I assume – will be a key word in its EA. I just have to wonder if the benefits outweigh the impacts – especially given that there are several other gravel pits in the vicinity.

  1. 1 Is It Time for County-Wide Zoning? Would It Win a Referendum Vote? « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] last night, and today’s hearing before the Board of County Commissioners regarding JTL’s proposed gravel pit-across-the-street-from-another-gravel pit up near Lolo (the only thing that can stop that is zoning), I’ve been thinking for the last few days about […]

  2. 2 Is a Gravel Pit Looming in Your Neighbor’s Backyard? « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] this stuff isn’t hysterics here, folks – even though I’ve blogged about this One, Two, Three, Four times here – and even once at Left in the West. It’s reality. The potential of multiple […]

  3. 3 County Takes Up Interim Zoning (Again) in Lolo « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Missoula’s Board of County Commissioners takes up an extension of interim zoning for the area just south of Lolo, and west of Highway 93 as it relates to gravel and open cut mining and processing operations. About a year ago the county commissioners approved interim zoning in this area, but not without being dragged to their responsibilities. […]

  4. 4 Bad Irony | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Counties (MACo) staff attorney for land use issues. Ms Shults was also up front and center with the gravel pit issue down near Lolo back several years […]




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