Zoning board appointment remains on Cascade County Commission agenda

An appointment to the Cascade County Zoning Board of Adjustment remains on the County Commission agenda for Tuesday morning.

There is one remaining vacancy on the ZBOA and there are 10 applicants for the term through December 2019.

Hearing canceled in lawsuit against Cascade County over zoning board appointments

The applicants are:

Michael Cooper; John Harding; Ernest Holmquist; Richard Liebert; Bruce Moore; Dale Nelson; Jesse Oldham Jr.; Robbie Regennitter; Ryan Villines; and Ronda Wiggers.

Their applicants are available here.

Commissioners were set to make an appointment during their March 13 meeting, but the appointment was postponed to allow staff to further research the criteria for the applicants.

Lawsuit filed over ZBOA criteria, appointments

Villines, one of the ZBOA applicants, filed a lawsuit against the county and the commissioners. He took issue with the criteria that the county created for the applicants, including that they not be city residents and not live within seven miles of the proposed Madison Food Park food processing plant.

County provides additional information on reasoning behind ZBOA criteria

The board is the body that, under state law, has the exclusive authority to grant special use permits like the one requested by the developers of the proposed MFP.

One of the applicants, Dale Nelson, owns an architecture firm in Great Falls and during Tuesday’s meeting, the county is considering awarding several contracts to Nelson Architects.

Short declines ZBOA appointment, creating a new vacancy

Several readers asked The Electric whether his appointment would be a conflict of interest.

The Electric checked with Carey Ann Haight, chief of the civil division in the County Attorney’s office, and currently, it’s not a conflict.

“As with any project, conflicts are evaluated and assessed on a case by case basis. There is no current conflict of interest between Nelson Architects bids and contract awards on currently bid projects and the ZBOA application of Dale Nelson for appointment to the ZBOA,” Haight told The Electric. “Of course were Dale Nelson or his business interested in a future project which would be brought before the ZBOA and assuming further that Mr. Nelson a seated ZBOA board-member, he would have to recuse himself from any action or vote on said project.”

That happens often on the city’s Design Review Board and Planning Advisory Board/Zoning Commission. Many of the members of those boards work in construction/design/development and when a project they are involved in comes before they board, they recuse themselves from the vote.