Archive for December 18th, 2007

by jhwygirl

With the approval of the Rattlesnake’s Sonata subdivision 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 how long it would be before we got county-wide zoning.

How many lawsuits will the county have to defend?

How much of Plum Creek Timberlands’ lands will be subdivided before we zone?

I spoke with a Ravalli County planner today. They are on-schedule for county-wide zoning by this time next year. Same with their streamside setback regulations.

County-wide zoning for Ravalli is the brainchild of a group of citizens who got sick and tired of unregulated growth and sprawl. They repeatedly went to the county commissioners requesting that zoning be undertaken, to no avail. Frustrated, they collected signatures to force a referendum vote, and last November a referendum was approved which enacted emergency interim zoning and required the county to adopt county-wide zoning.

The project is ambitious. I watch and follow with some amount of awe. Actual planning being done! How amazing!

The planner I spoke with is both excited and exhausted. I was told that they are all working feverishly on the plan – often working until 10 p.m. each night. “It’s not easy,” he/she said, “while a lot of the community is participating, there are, of course, a group of people that simply don’t want it. Period.”

I asked how the “takings” lecture went back about 2 weeks ago. He/she said that the meeting was extremely well-attended – more so than the zoning meetings which are also well-attended. The public was shocked, he/she said, at the information: that streamside setbacks are rarely found to be “takings”- that in order for a takings to occur, property has to be rendered unusable. Simply because you don’t get to do what you want to do isn’t a taking.

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It’s really hard to stop sprawl when you can go anywhere and ignore the comprehensive plan and subdivide to 1 acre lots. State law and legal precedent do NOT allow the comprehensive plan to be the sole and only reason for subdivision denial. (I wish that someone would have said that at last night’s Sonata hearing. It wasn’t city council’s fault. Without health, safety or welfare concerns that can’t be mitigated, they really had no legal standing to deny the request.)

Further, in some ways, we’ve got the city and the county working against each other. The city can – and is – working on a zoning rewrite. But without county-wide zoning, we are going to have development all over the place, sprawling traffic and increasing degradation to air quality. (Yeah, did you read that one this weekend?) If you can’t do what you want to in the city or out in the meager zoned county ‘donut’ – go out into the not-so-hinterlands, and go to one-acre lots. They’re hard-pressed to deny, really, in the end. And now probably even more so, considering Richards’ recent filing against the county.

~~~~~~~~

I stopped by our courthouse the other day to inquire what the process was to put a referendum on the ballot. I guess I’m not thinking that the county commissioners would put it there willingly.

A resolution would have to be prepared, presuming that the referendum would pass and the county commissioners would have to sign it. A petition would also have to be prepared. That resolution and petition would be reviewed and approved by the county elections officer and the county attorney. Once approved, roughly 12,000 signatures would have to be gathered in 90 days. The latest those signatures could be submitted would be early in August (so the elections office had time to verify that the signatures were valid.)

I took a poll around the office of both city and county residents – of course, everyone in the city said they would sign the petition. What surprised me was that every county resident, also, said they would sign it.

So I wonder – what do YOU think?

Is it time for county-wide zoning?

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by Rebecca Schmitz

Here’s the latest from one of our key allies in the, as the Bush Administration now calls it, War on Islamofascism: the Saudi gang-rape victim has been pardoned by King Abdullah. Remember this poor soul? She and an ex-boyfriend were raped by seven men because they were sitting…oh, hell. Who cares why? There’s no reason for this rape that any rational mind can process. Nor can the mind wrap itself around the victim’s punishment for meeting a male other than her husband: 200 lashes (the other rape victim, the guy, got 90 lashes).

Okay, so His Majesty completely understood that her sentence was outrageously unjust, and, to put it plainly, barbaric?

Saudi Justice Minister, Abdullah bin Muhammed, told the newspaper that the pardon did not mean the king doubted the country’s judges, but instead acted in the “interests of the people.”

Oh well.  At least they’re our ally.  That’s all that matters, right? I mean, when our country is fighting a global war for freedom and human rights against those who, in the words of President Bush,

…aggressively fund the spread of radical, intolerant versions of Islam in unstable parts of the world. Under their rule, they have banned books….and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, and to control every aspect of life, and to rule the soul, itself…

it’s important to find allies who don’t do any of that stuff.  Because then using the catchphrase “Islamofascists” to describe our enemies would be meaningless, right?  

by Rebecca Schmitz

Yesterday morning I answered my phone at work like I always do: “This is Rebecca.  How can I help you?”  The woman on the other end of the line said, “Merry Christmas!  I have some questions.”  “Good morning,” I replied without thinking twice, “let’s get you some answers.”  There was a long pause on her end.  Then, in a voice hard enough to cut glass, she spat, “I. Said. Merry. Christmas.”

Ah, she was one of those people.   You know, bound and determined to be unpleasant in an effort to shove her wretched politics down my throat.  She was a believer, not in Santa Claus or the message of Jesus Christ, but in Bill O’Reilly and Fox News.  There’s nothing remotely sincere about wishing someone else a Merry Christmas if lurking behind it is the need to embarrass and vilify a complete stranger.  That’s the sad thing about O’Reilly’s fake “War”: the second those words are used as a bludgeon they’ve lost the essential meaning so cherished by those who also like to remind us Jesus is the reason for the season.  Remember?  A larger meaning about peace on Earth and good will to men, perhaps?  Although Bill O’Reilly declared he won his “War” last week when the House of Reprensentatives took the time to pass a bill “recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith” (I guess Congress doesn’t have enough to do, what with two wars, a massive national deficit and a domestic agenda in chaos), those of us who have to deal with his soliders know otherwise.  There are plenty of petty people out there willing to make a mockery of their own faith just to make a point. 

“Yes, I heard you,” I said to the woman in my most pleasant and professional tone. “Now, how may I help?” 

by Rebecca Schmitz

The Missoula City Council passed the urban chicken ordinance by a vote of eight to four last night. The usual suspects, Councilmen Reidy, Hendrickson, Wilkins and Nicholson, voted against it. Coincidentally, chicken supporter Mike Jakupcak penned an ode to our feathered friends based on…wait for it…‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

“The chickens were all huddled outside the city limits in pens / Awaiting the decision to stay put or gather speed, put on mittens and en masse descend,” he read.

I think his version is way better than mine.  Someone needs to get that guy a blog.

by jhwygirl

By a 3-2 vote, the Bozeman City Commission supported a resolution for a “orderly, rapidly and comprehensive” withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

More of Montana speaks.




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