This week the Indy looks at Plum Creek Timber Co.'s ability to protest the zoning regulations that could come out of the Seeley Lake Regional Plan. The Missoula County Commissioners are currently considering the plan, which the Seeley Lake Community Council drafted over the last three-and-a-half years.
The story doesn't quote the commissioners, so we thought we'd post Commissioner Jean Curtiss' thoughts here, which came in after deadline. I asked her about Plum Creek's apparent disapproval with the plan, and to what extent the commissioners are considering the fact that Plum Creek has the ability to essentially veto the zoning that could come of it.
I guess I would not agree that Plum Creek is unhappy with the plan. Plum Creek has stated that they support planning and zoning that is fair to all landowners (as does the Commission). Plum Creek has participated throughout the process to help insure that their interests are represented, and has promised to continue to participate in the future.
Plum Creek has asked for very specific changes to a portion of the plan and has not indicated opposition to a vast majority of the document. Plum Creek noted that their comments are often recognized in the current draft of the Plan and expressed appreciation for that recognition. Plum Creek has asked the Commissioners to note specific issues dealing with Resource Protection Lands and the Commissioners have asked staff to review those issues, as well as others raised by the community.
The Commissioners will look at comments from all, including [Plum Creek], and making decisions based on what is best for this watershed for the future. As you note, there is a difference between the growth policy amendment for the Seeley Lake planning region and an implementation plan for the growth policy which would include zoning.
After public testimony and lots of discussion, the commission will want to adopt a growth policy that would shape any future zoning but there are options regarding zoning. We don't have to do zoning in one big swoop. We may choose to approach it like we are in Lolo, in phases.
We are aware of the percentage of land [Plum Creek] owns in the region but will make decisions based on community and county-wide needs, the overall public health and safety of the community, protection of individual rights, resource protection, orderly growth and economic development, and each of the criteria outlined in our state enabling legislation.
We anticipate working closely with all members of the community to help guide the future of this drainage in a manner that benefits existing and future landowners, residents and visitors to the area. And we have no reason to believe that Plum Creek will not work with us toward that goal.