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History of Farmland Protection

 

A Timeline:  1973 - 2016

1973

The Montana Subdivision and Platting Act was first passed in 1973 in order to give communities a process to follow in regards to how land was subdivided within their jurisdictions. 

 

1975

Subdivision and Platting Act amended to require local governments to review subdivision proposals for their impacts on the public interest.  Throughout the legislative debates on these amendments (HB 666), the intentions of vesting control over subdivision review with local governments, and of protecting agricultural land water from unchecked development in the state were clear.  According to the minutes from the bill’s first hearing, Representative Vincent, the chief sponsor, “stated he was a proponent of this piece of legislation primarily because of the tragic intrusion on the agriculture land base of Montana.

 

1983

At the request of the County Commissioners, the Missoula Planning Office produced The Missoula County Agricultural Protection Study, which looked at production and consumption patterns, and identified various strategies for protection and promoting agriculture here. 

 

2004

Missoula County Community Food Assessment released.  Included survey of 52 farmers and ranchers in the County.  Findings included:  71% said that agriculture is “struggling here,” and 65% said the County should “do more” to protect farmland from development. 

http://missoulian.com/news/local/local-farms-food-sources-diminishing-report-shows/article_732c2c4b-f79c-5e72-8c48-3f3b514e5597.html

 

2005

Missoula urged to protect farmland.

http://missoulian.com/news/city-urged-to-protect-farmland/article_dae60f60-606f-59b2-b597-ddfeba7aad6e.html

 

2007

New definition of agriculture adopted in both the City and County subdivision regulations.  The definition now includes agricultural soils and clarifies a proposed development’s impacts to agriculture so that it can be more carefully reviewed and mitigated.

 

2008

CFAC hosted a “Rooted in the Soil,” a farmland protection tour in July.  The 65 participants included many elected officials and stakeholders, who were about threats to agriculture and opportunities for local markets.

http://missoulian.com/news/farming-s-future---tour-looks-at-valley-s/article_a3d8efdf-4e2d-5e90-a940-2cf944ead870.html

 

2009

November:  $10 million open space bond passes.

 

November: Bob Wagner, American Farmland Trust, visits Missoula to share ideas about what has worked elsewhere to protect agricultural land. 

http://missoulian.com/a-conversation-about-protecting-land-farmers-and-ranchers/article_7554cedc-d1b0-11de-9fe2-001cc4c002e0.html

http://missoulian.com/news/local/protecting-soil-and-a-way-of-life-coalition-aims-to/article_11784b96-d1b0-11de-8901-001cc4c002e0.html

 

Chickasaw Place subdivision debated.

http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/agriculture-in-plan-for-subdivision/article_74656e99-f253-5bbe-92f6-f8c287419c65.html

http://missoulian.com/news/local/orchard-homes-group-sues-city-over-chickasaw-place-plan/article_82f1ed43-1088-54ef-bc11-7f105afb455a.html

 

Target Range Neighborhood Plan

http://missoulian.com/news/local/keepin-it-rural-target-range-residents-take-charge-of-neighborhood/article_483fcd9c-c6a3-11de-99e3-001cc4c002e0.html

 

In 2008 and 2009, CFAC became involved in the subdivision review process, commenting on 25 proposals regarding their potential impacts to agriculture.  Of those 25 subdivisions, CFAC found that 13 would have substantial impacts, dividing 570 acres of highly productive farmland.  All 13 were approved. 

 

2010

April:  CFAC released Losing Ground: The Future of Farms and Food in Missoula County (Hubbard and Hassanein, April).  Based on extensive research, the report documents how the County has lost some 29,000 acres of agricultural land to other uses since the mid-1980s.  It lays the factual foundation for implementing a multi-pronged and community-wide strategy that will strengthen our food economy and security, and secure our agricultural legacy.

http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/save-missoula-county-s-agricultural-land-alliance-urges/article_3430415a-42c8-11df-a01a-001cc4c002e0.html

 

July:  MOR and MBIA release “A Place to Grow: An Informed Discussion on Agriculture and Land Use in Western Montana.”

http://missoulian.com/news/local/study-ag-land-exists-for-vegetable-crops/article_0b459ece-96de-11df-914d-001cc4c002e0.html

ftp://www.co.missoula.mt.us/planningftp/OpenLandsCommittee/AgDiscussion/2010_MOR-MBIA-APlacetoGrow.pdf

 

2011

Montana Legislature considers HB 542, which would have deleted “agriculture” from Montana’s subdivision review criteria and replace it with the much weaker “surrounding agricultural operations.”  Vetoed by Governor Schweitzer.

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/subdivision-bill-bad-for-farmers-ranchers/article_2f719e06-4e44-11e0-acf4-001cc4c03286.html

 

Community debates proposed subdivision, Alexandra Estates (116 acres total; 104 of which are agricultural land; 75 acres of prime soil.)

 

Planning Board unanimously recommends denial of Alexandra Estates. 

http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/missoula-planning-board-pans-development-on--acre-parcel-north/article_5c19045a-1197-11e1-9773-001cc4c03286.html

http://missoulian.com/news/local/missoula-county-officials-seek-to-balance-productive-ag-land-development/article_2e24acd2-18a1-11e1-aa0a-001cc4c002e0.html

 

December:  BCC approves Alexandra Estates

http://missoulian.com/news/local/missoula-county-commission-approves--acre-subdivision-north-of-lolo/article_9141d046-2149-11e1-85fb-0019bb2963f4.html

 

December:  BCC publishes opinion-editorial; CFAC responds. 

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/growth-policy-can-be-changed/article_c90c3574-2668-11e1-b0c6-001871e3ce6c.html

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/missoula-commissioners-could-have-voted-to-preserve-agricultural-land/article_e20ba7e4-3167-11e1-a734-0019bb2963f4.html

 

2012

February – Agricultural Protection in Montana:  Local Planning, Regulation, and Incentives.  A report presented to Missoula County by the Land Use Clinic at the University of Montana Law School. 

ftp://www.co.missoula.mt.us/planningftp/OpenLandsCommittee/AgDiscussion/2012-2_UMLandUseClinicAgriculturalProtectionReport-Appendices.pdf

 

July – Ideas and Information about Potential Agriculture Policies in Missoula County.  Open Lands Citizen Advisory Committee report after reviewing reports from the Land Use Clinic, CFAC, and MOR/MBIA.

ftp://www.co.missoula.mt.us/planningftp/OpenLandsCommittee/AgDiscussion/2012-05-17_OLC-FinalAGPolicyReport.pdf

 

August – Planning Board hosts “informational meeting” at the Doubletree Hotel; four reports summarized in oral presentations to the 250 or so attendees.  Facilitated by Ginny Tribe. 

http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/missoula-consolidated-planning-board-to-hold-agriculture-policy-meeting/article_e37c0a24-eb20-11e1-b666-001a4bcf887a.html

 

October – Jean Curtiss explains her position on farmland protection in Missoulian and contrasts her position with her opponent in the election.  Promises “discussion” and says she “looks forward to the challenge.”

http://missoulian.com/news/local/missoula-county-commissioner-hopefuls-split-over-agriculture-land-policies/article_96359088-10f4-11e2-89ea-001a4bcf887a.html

http://missoulian.com/elections_2012/counties/county_races/missoula-county-commissioner-democratic-primary---jean-curtiss/article_c2c25eb0-9ba1-11e1-a20f-0019bb2963f4.html

Rural Initiatives presents “middle of the road” package to Planning Board.

http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/rural-initiatives-to-recommend-compromise-agriculture-policy-for-missoula-county/article_cf0fb04a-1726-11e2-9b78-001a4bcf887a.html

 

November –  RI staff memo to PB on policy concepts. 

ftp://www.co.missoula.mt.us/planningftp/AgProject/2012-12-4_PB-memo_final.pdf

 

November – BCC sends letter saying they support the PB’s recommendation regarding package of options to consider and directing staff to work with PB on subdivision regulation revision as “a top priority” for the county. 

ftp://www.co.missoula.mt.us/planningftp/AgProject/2012-11-21_BCC-PB_AgPolicyLetter.pdf

 

2013

Public hearing on RI’s package was to be held in February.  Cancelled due to State Legislative actions. 

 

Montana Legislature considers SB 147, which would have deleted “agriculture” from Montana’s subdivision review criteria and replace it with the much weaker “adjacent agricultural operations.” 

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/don-t-delete-agriculture-from-subdivision-review-process/article_b689d4d6-84dd-11e2-9a91-0019bb2963f4.html

 

April 22 – Governor Bullock vetoes SB 147.

 

2014

May – CAPS organizes open houses. 

http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/missoula-county-open-houses-to-engage-discussion-of-agriculture-and/article_192e3ea4-e47a-11e3-8402-001a4bcf887a.html

 

July – CAPS presented the findings and introduces a Framework for Subdivision Regulations on agriculture at the Planning Board Meeting.  After the presentation, no further work was done on the Framework. 

http://www.co.missoula.mt.us/mccaps/CurrentPlanningPermitting/SRRP/SubRegRewrite_Ag.htm 

 

August – CAPS releases a memo delaying public hearings on the Framework and Regulations

 

September – CAPS organizes an Informal Agriculture Working Group meeting. 

 

December – CAPS and the National Coalition Building Institute facilitate a follow-up to the Working Group meeting.  NCBI submits a 1-page report to CAPS. http://www.co.missoula.mt.us/mccaps/CurrentPlanningPermitting/SRRP/Docs/2014-12-CAPS_NCBI-Report.pdf

 

2015 

June- CAPS released a proposed framework outlining agricultural mitigation measures to be included in the county's subdividision regulations. The proposed framework would have excluded soils of local importance from protection and allowed developers whose proposed subdivisions would adversely impact agriculture to avoid having to mitigate for by paying a fee in lieu between $1000 to $3000 per acre.

 

CFAC began its Save It, Don't Pave It campaign, teaming up with artist Claire Emery to raise awareness of the issue. In under a month, over 100 supporters of farmland protection posted comments on the CAPS website and sent in postcards.

 

UM Law School's Land Use Clinic published a follow-up to the 2012 report:

Case studies of agriculture mitigation projects

 

July- CAPS released a revised draft  on the 17th that did little to address citizen concerns. CFAC supporters continued to show their support.

 

August- CAPS released a second revised draft of agricultural mitigation measures on August 14th that afforded greater protections for farmland, including a suite of developer mitigation options. The definition of agriculture in the revised draft still did not include soils of local importance.

 

Missoulian article by Dave Erickson on upcoming hearing Aug. 29, 2015

http://missoulian.com/business/local/county-to-take-public-input-on-proposed-subdivision-regs-for/article_fc6a7e59-b619-5482-9723-ce5dc0d66634.html

  

September- The Planning Board held a public hearing on the 1st. Supporters packed the City Council Chambers, and gave several hours of testimony. The PB voted to include soils of local importance, but due to the lateness of the hour, the hearing was adjourned before they voted on the proposed regulations. Another hearing, held on the 29th, was declared invalid due to lack of proper public notice and postponed until a later date.

 

Missoula Independent article Sept. 1, 2015

http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/IndyBlog/archives/2015/09/01/land-art-prime-soil-conservation-finds-a-different-kind-of-advocate

 

Missoulian article by Martin Kidston on farmland protection

http://m.missoulian.com/eedition/page-b/page_b9d2c481-1425-535d-9043-64192e562121.html?mobile_touch=true

 

October- The Planning Board held the next public hearing on October 20th. They approved a draft of the subdivision regulations and voted to recommend that the Board of County Commissioners pass strong protections for farmland in the revised regulations.

https://shared.missoulacounty.us/index.php/s/7udfAFzPRzO89Q

 

Missoulian article by Dave Erickson on PB vote Oct. 23, 2015

http://missoulian.com/news/local/article_c7890f0e-4cb0-509b-b043-be7e6056d609.html

 

December-The Board of County Commissioners held a public hearing on December 8th to decide what sort of agricultural mitigation measures to include in the revised subdivision regulations.

 

A link to Missoula County's website with the latest draft regulations and recommendations from the Planning Board and staff:

http://www.missoulacounty.us/government/community-development/community-planning-services/projects/subdivision-regulations-rewrite/agriculture

 

Bob Oakes letter to the editor of the Missoulian Nov. 9, 2015

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/agriculture-base-decision-on-future-well-being/article_d1bf79ba-7605-5caa-9eda-77cb7bb929fa.html

 

KD Dickinson LTE in the Missoulian Dec. 23, 2015

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/real-estate-subdivision-rules-preserve-character/article_e88b873c-c255-5c25-9d03-0d0dc1769782.html

 

Ross Prosperi LTE in the Missoulian Nov. 27, 2015

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/agriculture-get-serious-about-preserving-lands/article_93e57f93-1d19-58ca-b20c-3be5c1d90f0b.html

 

Jennifer Hill-Hart LTE Nov. 19, 2015

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/agriculture-subdivision-rules-protect-farmland/article_6c8541c9-a108-5185-86ed-8147b1429f72.html

 

Josh Slotnick LTE for the Missoulian, December 17, 2015

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/agriculture-land-culture-are-growth-engines/article_552f5f70-5825-552a-b9f0-9ddf962f9771.html 

 

2016


The BCC met on January 13th and voted 3-0 against adopting the Planning Board's recommended farmland protection regulations. Commissioners Curtiss, Rowley, and Rye directed the CAPS staff to focus on voluntary farmland mitigation efforts.

 


Martha Newell LTE to the Missoulian January 27

Subdivision regulations: Commissioners offered no solutions 

 

List of Acronyms and their Organizations:

BCC – Board of County Commissioners

CFAC – Community Food & Agriculture Coalition

MOR – Missoula Organization of Realtors

MBIA – Missoula Building Industry Association

CAPS – Missoula County and Planning Services

OPG – Office of Planning and Grants

RI – Rural Initiatives