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Volume XXII, Number 22

Wednesday, January 4, 2007

2006 - the year in review

By Michael Howell

Dominating the news in the year 2006 was a set of issues involving growth and development in the valley and the political events associated with it.

Voters pass Interim Zoning Initiative

At the top of the list of news events in the last year related to growth and development would be the passage by voters of the Interim Zoning Initiative in the November elections. The emergency measure limits development in the county for a one year period to one dwelling per two acres and requires the County Commissioners to enact county-wide zoning regulations within the year. That timeline may be extended for a second year by the Commissioners if they fail to enact the zoning regulations in the first year. More...

On December 20, volunteers helped the Pantry Partners Food Bank in Stevensville distribute a record-number of Christmas food boxes - containing a total of more than 20,000 pounds of food - to 285 families and individuals (1,025 people). The boxes were filled at St. Mary's Family Center, with help from high school students and adult volunteers. The Pantry also received several generous monetary donations on that day form local foundations and churches. Tad Lubinski photos.

Aspen Springs Subdivision denied

Also near the top of our list of significant news events associated with growth and development would have to be the long, drawn out review of the largest subdivision ever proposed in Ravalli County and its ultimate denial by the County Commissioners. More...

Voters opt to change county government

Another result of the November elections to make our list of top stories was the voters' decision to increase the number of county commissioners from three to five and reduce the term lengths served from six years to four years. Placed on the ballot by the Local Government Review Study Commission, the measures, since being adopted, have created quite a stir. More...

'Big Box' ordinance repealed

Another significant result of the last elections is the repeal of the so-called "Big Box" Ordinance. That ordinance, which limited the size of large retail stores to 60,000 square feet and sets design standards for establishments between 25,000 and 60,000 square feet, was passed by the County Commissioners last April following a jam-packed meeting with over 1,000 people in attendance. More...

Open Lands Bond passed

Also worth mentioning in the election results is the passage of a $10 million open lands bond designed to protect open space and agricultural land in the valley. The money will be used for purchase of development rights on agricultural land, to finance the placement of conservation easements on some lands, and, in certain circumstances, allow outright purchase of the lands by the county. More...

Middle East Fork Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project gets federal court approval

The first project in Montana to be implemented under the Healthy Forest Resoration Act, the Middle East Fork Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project, was approved by Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor Dave Bull on the last day of March. However, that decision was immediately appealed to federal court by Friends of the Bitterroot and the WildWest Institute, two local conservation groups. That court battle, though not completely over, reached a milestone in December when U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy finally approved the project, rejecting every claim made by the environmental groups. More...

Judge finds Mitchell Slough not a natural stream

In a case that could revamp our understanding of the state's Stream Access Law and the Natural Streambed and Land Preservation Act (310 Law), District Court Judge Ted Mizner ruled last January that Mitchell Slough, a 13-mile-long historic side channel the Bitterroot River winding from Corvallis to Stevensville, was "no longer natural" and thus not subject to either the 310 Law or the Stream Access Law. More...

Fires of 2006

The 2006 fire season was nothing like the Fires of 2000. But it could have been! Except for the watchful eyes and quick responses of Bitterroot Valley citizens and fire officials. More...

Hamilton City Councilor Bob Scott a survivor

Hamilton City Councilor Bob Scott survived being expelled from the City Council by suing the city over it and getting reinstated. He survived misdemeanor assault charges by proving his innocence in court. And he survived a subsequent recall election by two votes. More...


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