County Commission removes criteria for ZBOA applicants, decides to readvertise for remaining vacancy

Cascade County Commissioners did not make an appointment to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, but instead voted to remove the criteria for the applicants, vacate the applications and readvertise for the remaining vacancy on the board.

That means anyone in the county can apply and anyone who already applied has to reapply if they’re still interested in being considered.

County provides additional information on reasoning behind ZBOA criteria

Commissioner Jim Larson made the motion to remove all of the criteria that had been previously released by the county. That criteria included that applicants be resident freeholders outside the incorporated areas like Great Falls and Belt; that applicants live outside a 7-mile radius from the proposed Madison Food Park and that applicants have not made public comments about the MFP project.

Hearing canceled in lawsuit against Cascade County over zoning board appointments

“Anybody that lives in Cascade County should have the opportunity to apply,” Commissioner Jane Weber said.

Weber had previously asked staffers to check whether applicants to the ZBOA had made public statements regarding the MFP proposal when commissioners initially made appointments in January. Commissioners ruled out applicants who had made comments and within a few days of making those appointments, it was determined that one of their selections had made public comments on MFP and he declined the appointment.

Larson said that in particular he opposed the 7-mile radius but would prefer that applicants live outside the incorporated areas like Great Falls.

Commissioner Joe Briggs said he wanted to keep the resident freeholder requirement and voted against Larson’s motion.

No timeline has yet been set for the new application process.

Short declines ZBOA appointment, creating a new vacancy

State law requires that members of the planning board be resident freeholders and Briggs and Larson have stated a preference for appointing people to the ZBOA who have experience with the development process from time served on the planning board.

State law gives the ZBOA exclusive power to decide certain zoning matters, such as the special use permit that would be required for the Madison Food Park project. The law does not state a resident freeholder requirement for ZBOA members.

County planning, zoning board appointments pushed to Jan. 9

In the case of the planning board, only those who live in the unincorporated areas of the county pay the fees that fund the county planning department and Briggs has stated that he prefers the members of both boards live in the areas that the boards have jurisdiction over.

The planning board and ZBOA have no jurisdiction over zoning or development actions within the Great Falls city limits. The city has its own planning board that doesn’t have jurisdiction outside the city.