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Public process needed for proposed subdivision

Public process needed for proposed subdivision

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If you saw the legal notice regarding the Burnt Fork Estates Subdivision in the Bitterroot Star, page 16 of the Aug. 26, 2020, paper, you saw a meeting on Sept. 3, with the Planning and Zoning Board and three subsequent hearings with the Town Council.

You may wonder why just a meeting and not a hearing with the board on a major subdivision. Is the Sept. 3 meeting closed to the public as I’ve heard? Could closed meetings and virtual meetings during a pandemic serve a less than honest purpose to prevent or limit public participation? Could that happen in Stevensville? If you’re following local news, the answer is yes.

The Stevensville 2016 Growth Policy (town website) under Subdivision Review page 37 and 38 states, “Public hearings provide the opportunity for individuals who have an interest in or may be impacted by a proposed subdivision to express their concerns to Planning and Zoning Board and Town Council. Montana’s Subdivision and Platting Act requires public hearings for major and subsequent minor subdivisions. This section serves to outline how public hearings will be conducted by the Planning and Zoning Board and Town Council for proposed subdivisions in Stevensville.”

The above mentioned meeting or hearings must abide by the Montana Open Meetings Law. MCA 2-3-201: “The law defines meeting as any gathering of a quorum of the members of a public body, including the use of electronic equipment, so as to deliberate and decide on public policy.

Marilyn Wolff

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