Missoula County zoning updates eye ag preservation keeps tabs on water legal rights ~ Missoula Current

As Missoula County updates its zoning codes and land-use map, preserving agricultural soils although monitoring the transfer of drinking water rights could have a hand in potential advancement.

The county’s organizing section on Tuesday night time provided an overview of the several conservation-connected issues within the new zoning codes, which will manual preparing and growth outdoors the town limits.

That contains efforts to preserve agricultural soils all through the valley by employing what county planner Andrew Hagemeier described as conservation design and style.

“This is the artwork of allowing progress to happen and preserving agricultural land at the same time,” he mentioned. “Our subdivision restrictions, up until finally the state modified the legislation on us, we could have to have mitigation in phrases of preservation from the development. We have shed that capacity by way of the subdivision course of action, but we even now have it by means of zoning.”

Irrespective of the pleadings of county officials, the 2021 Legislature nixed a zoning tool that was utilised for the duration of the subdivision evaluate process to mitigate the loss of agricultural soils in speedily increasing areas, this sort of as Missoula and Bozeman.

Without that capacity, Hagemeier said, the county will put better emphasis on zoning using conservation style and design, which presents incentives to builders who preserve vital farming soils.

The code calls for conservation in the county’s agricultural district on key agricultural soils, though it’s voluntary in other places, Hagemeier claimed.

“That’s how it is drafted correct now, but that is not necessarily how it will conclusion up,” he said. “There’s some curiosity in growing the specifications via conservation structure by way of additional districts when on key ag soil.”

Problems in excess of h2o rights are also on the desk, given their effects on growth.

Hagemeier mentioned the Montana Office of Purely natural Means and Conservation considers Missoula a closed basin, which has outcomes for improvement.

“That does restrict improvement potential in the course of the valley, as far as massive subdivisions,” he reported. “But the improvement community has gotten fairly savvy with how they approach subdivisions, employing covenants that simply call for different items like xeriscaping. That allows very a couple homes and DNRC accepts it. It’s in the procedures.”

With h2o legal rights weighing intensely in growth options, Hagemeier said the county has problems in excess of the transfer of water legal rights underneath specified instances.

A farm or ranch that holds drinking water rights for agricultural land could transfer those people legal rights to progress. And that could final result in leap-frog growth, Hagemeier reported.

“It could make suburban sort developments significantly absent from town. Which is a chance,” he mentioned. “We have not viewed as well considerably of that in the Missoula place however, but it comes about all over Montana.”

The county is also maintaining tabs on the potential of the former Smurfit-Stone container mill site in Frenchtown. The property is at present becoming reviewed for possible contaminants and cleanup, nevertheless the size of the assets features extensive progress possible.

Previous yr, MLH Montana, a subsidiary of Wakefield-Kennedy and the new owner of component of the Smurfit-Stone home, sought to relocate quite a few boundary strains on at minimum 5 parcels.

Some questioned whether the relocation ask for would let MLH Montana to produce the assets much more effortlessly than if it experienced to go by means of a a lot more in-depth county subdivision critique.

“Some out-of-state financial commitment firm owns 2 million gallons per day (water rights) at the aged mill internet site,” Hagemeier explained. “They could make your mind up to produce a personal water procedure out of those people 2 million gallons for every day and start off marketing it to adjacent residence house owners. We could see that private like sprawl occur.”