Thursday, July 29, 2010

MOR denies preparing to change subdivision laws in the Legislature

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 7:15 AM

As we write in the Indy this week, the Missoula Organization of Realtors (MOR) and Missoula Building Industries Association (MBIA) recently released its long-awaited report (PDF) on agriculture in Missoula. There was an interesting back-and-forth at the press conference last Friday we didn't have room to include in our story.

  • Cathrine L. Walters
Roger Millar, former director of the Missoula City-County Office of Planning and Grants and current director of land use and transportation policy for Smart Growth America, asked MOR Spokesperson Ruth Link to address rumors that real estate agents and developers are working at the state level to pass legislation amending the Montana Subdivision and Platting Act, a move that could make moot Missoula's debate over preserving ag land through the subdivision review process.

The act requires governing bodies to consider "effects on agriculture" when evaluating subdivision applications, and the Missoula City Council and County Commission have used the language to justify rejecting or reshaping subdivision proposals to preserve agricultural land. Striking the requirement would certainly please many in the development community, who believe—as attorney Bill VanCanagan argued last Friday—that it's illegal to require a landowner to set aside land for agricultural purposes.

“The rumor is completely unfounded,” Link responded.

“You guys are not looking to change the Subdivision and Platting Act?” Millar pressed.

“Not at this point,” Link said. “But of course nobody’s been elected and, you know, things change very quickly in the legislative session. It’s not in the strategy plan for right now.”

For more on the tensions between development and the preservation of agricultural lands in the Missoula Valley, check out our April feature "Common ground."

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