All I want for Christmas is (are) …

by Pete Talbot

… chickens. Well, not personally – too much responsibility. But thanks to a City Council vote Monday night, maybe one of my neighbors will share their homegrown, fresh huevos with me.

… a rewrite of Missoula’s zoning regulations (in progress). Planned Neighborhood Clusters, density bonuses, redrawn property lines – these issues, while good ideas, need a little tweaking. Let’s also add some design standards to the mix.

… comprehensive county-wide zoning. Since most of the growth in the Missoula area is occurring outside the city limits, it’s absurd not to have county zoning in place. Can you say gravel pits?

… Plum Creek lands given to Missoula County in the form of publicly-accessible conservation easements. This one follows on the heels of my previous wish. A planner told me that since Plum Creek is a major landholder in the county, it’s going to be darn hard to zone the county until we know what’s going to happen to those lands.

… help for the homeless and an end to the rage. Missoulian Clayton Salcido’s murder is unfathomable, and (allegedly) at the hands of a Hellgate High School student and his buddy. How could this happen in our community?

… the punk who threw a frozen pie in Santa’s face does some time. Not a lot of time, maybe a few days, enough for some introspection. I’d sort of forgotten about this incident then two things happened. First, I met the above-mentioned Santa. He didn’t want to talk about it – he’s probably sick and tired of people asking him about what happened – but he’s a regular guy just doing a job and didn’t deserve this. Second, the perpetrator wrote a letter to the Missoulian. No remorse or “I’ll never do it again;” just some lame justification that this is the kind of entertainment people want (he’s producing a DVD — for God’s sake don’t anybody buy one).

… a semi-auto, clip-fed shotgun, plus a 9mm. Luger and maybe some Nosler 130-grain partition bullets. Not really. I’m going to catch some crap over this one but Gerik, Moorcat and Wulfgar – fellow bloggers whom I often agree with politically – are asking Santa for new weapons. For some reason, for me anyway, the holiday season doesn’t suggest more firepower. But to each his own.

… a couple more Democratic seats in Montana’s House of Representatives. Our state is starting to move in a decent direction. This would help facilitate the move.

… a real energy policy. The CAFE standards that Congress passed and the Prez just signed into law are a start but otherwise it was a pretty insignificant bill. It looks like the oil and coal industry won another round.

… in the same vein, some U.S. leadership on the global warming/climate change issue. I was embarrassed by my country’s behavior at the recent Bali conference. We could be the hero but instead, in the eyes of most countries, we’re the villain.

… no more soldier and civilian war-related death in Iraq. We aren’t winning this war and never will. The recent death of Helena soldier Daren Smith, 19, drives this point home.

… peace on earth, goodwill towards men, women, kids and critters. I could also use a new pair of Sorels.

  1. Jim Lang

    How many votes does Plum Creek have?

  2. A planner told me that since Plum Creek is a major landholder in the county, it’s going to be darn hard to zone the county until we know what’s going to happen to those lands.

    That is insanely backwards. Plum Creek is currently selling it’s lands. Not to resource businesses, but to developers large and small. We know what is going to happen. They are also planning some sort of resort development in the Placid Lake area.

    To wait until they do what they are actually currently doing, and then zone after they’ve gotten to do what they’re going to do is ridiculous.

    Look how Sehestedt ruled on the Rock Creek subdivision – the neighbors out there got together, petitioned for a special zoning district, and Sehestedt came in with an opinion that said that since the developer – who had, btw, not even had his subdivision application in the office of planning at the time of the special zoning district application – had “invested a significant amount of money already in his plans,” the zoning wasn’t going to be applicable to him.

    Then Barbara went and screwed up the vote and they ended up with no zoning.

    Yeah – let’s wait until PCT does what it’s going to do with it’s major holdings and thenzone.

  3. He didn’t want to talk about it – he’s probably sick and tired of people asking him about what happened – but he’s a regular guy just doing a job and didn’t deserve this.

    He should take consolation in the fact that this fella peed on another Santa for his film…

  4. It’s my understanding that Clint Westwood was “Jackassing” his way around Missoula as part of his final project for UM’s Drama Department. Perhaps taxpayers, alumni, and the administration ought to press the professors in that department to give him an F, at the very least. No one’s higher education or college degree should depend on assaulting others.

  5. Binky Griptight

    From an archived Missoulian story:

    “He’s worried because Missoula County has almost no control over how Plum Creek will develop its land. The county, O’Herren said, is split into nine planning regions. If any single landowner owns more than half the private acreage in any given region, that landowner can protest and quash any attempt at planning and zoning there.

    And of Missoula County’s nine planning regions, Plum Creek owns a majority property share in six. Countywide, the company owns 413,992 acres.

    “That pretty much makes Missoula County a company county,” O’Herren said. “We’re not talking about company towns anymore; we’re talking about company counties. There’s a lot at stake here.”

    Especially if Plum Creek decides to fight county zoning efforts. A Seattle-based corporation, O’Herren said, whose connection to Montana is only as strong as the value of the land, can – and likely will – define the community landscape for all the rest of the residents.

    “They’ve been very blunt,” O’Herren said. “If they don’t agree with the county zoning, they will protest it.”

  6. jhwygirl

    Here’s a novel idea – maybe the county should work with PCT and all landowners before it starts to write the regulations?

    They didn’t learn from the streamside setback debacle?

  7. goof houlihan

    “Within 30 days after the expiration of the protest period, the board of county commissioners may in its discretion adopt the resolution creating the zoning district or establishing the zoning regulations for the district. However, if 40% of the freeholders within the district whose names appear on the last-completed assessment roll or if freeholders representing 50% of the titled property ownership whose property is taxed for agricultural purposes under 15-7-202 or whose property is taxed as forest land under Title 15, chapter 44, part 1, have protested the establishment of the district or adoption of the regulations, the board of county commissioners may not adopt the resolution and a further zoning resolution may not be proposed for the district for a period of 1 year.

    There’s the Plum Creek problem: 50% of the land taxed as forest land in the district gets veto power.

  8. goof houlihan

    So you don’t have all over zoning, you create a 201 district outside the plum creek lands. I will do much of what you want.

    Then you put in impact fees that are scaled to distance from the population center.

  9. JC

    One of the main issues that needs to be considered is that as Plum Creek sells off land, that it’s majority position decreases, but the position of the developers who buy the land increases. Thus we have a position where the developers and the purchasers of the subdivided units are in increasingly powerful positions. And who are the purchasers of these subdivided units? Predominantly wealthy, out-of-state people looking for second, vacation homes, and trophy homes. Complete with all of the problems that comes with this sort of demographic.

    At the rate that Plum Creek is selling off land, it is doubtful that any kind of legislation can be rammed through quick enough to rectify the situation. Does this sort of wholesale land sell off qualify as an emergency? Allowing hundreds, maybe thousands of people to build homes in forested areas that are at risk of wildfire?

  10. jhwygirl

    PCT lands are interspersed, for the most part, with federal ownership….it presents quite a problem with regards to zoning – I mean, what do you think federal lands would be zoned? (That is rhetorical)

  11. Wildfire.

    Sounds like an emergency to me, given some recent experiences.

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