Commission postpones vote on changes to county subdivision regulations; budget amended for Expo Park grandstands

The bulk of Tuesday morning’s Cascade County Commission meeting was related to subdivisions.

After going page by page through the proposed subdivision regulation changes, commissions decided to table their vote to July 10.

Planning staff had recommended a number of changes, primarily related to law changes from the 2017 Montana Legislature session.

County planning board recommends approval of subdivision regulation changes

The county planning board voted to recommend approval of the changes during their May 15 meeting.

[READ the proposed changes]

Some other changes include expanding the right-of-way requirement for roadways from 60 feet to 80 feet.

That was related to slope requirements, according to planning staff.

Commissioner Joe Briggs said he wanted more information about the reasoning behind that change before they voted.

County staff has also recommended removing cluster developments from the regulations since that time of development can be addressed with a planned unit development zoning.

In the current regulations, a cluster development is defined as “a subdivision with lots clustered in a group of five or more lots that is designed to concentrate building sites on smaller lots while allowing other lands to remain undeveloped.”

No cluster developments have been created in the county, according to planning staff.

Commissioners Jane Weber and Briggs had additional questions about that change.

Briggs said that was added in for what is now the Foothills development just outside the eastern end of the city limits, though the plan for that subdivision changed and the cluster development concept was not pursued.

“If a developer wanted to do that now, how would we do it,” Briggs asked.

Brian Clifton, county public works director, said the regulations address cluster type developments in other ways so the cluster designation isn’t used by the county.

In the current zoning regulations, the PUD definition includes, “a land development project consisting of residential clusters.”

Briggs said the concept of cluster development was appealing.

Briggs and Weber noted that Missoula and Gallatin counties are using cluster developments. Missoula County includes a section for cluster development in their zoning regulations, but Gallatin does not.

Weber said she could envision cluster developments in Belt, Cascade, Ulm or Vaughn.

Belt and Cascade are incorporated towns so the county subdivision regulations don’t apply within their limits, according to county staff. The towns could also annex developments on their fringe. Belt is currently developing its own zoning regulations.

Briggs asked planning staff to add wired broadband as a utility in the regulations as they were removing telegraph from the utility section.

Senior Planner Alex Dachs asked Briggs if the definition of utilities in Montana law had been updated to include broadband.

Briggs said the Montana Code Annotated doesn’t recognize broadband, but the county subdivision regulations should.

Commissioners did finalize a change to the county zoning regulations to allow a second dwelling or multifamily dwelling unit including a duplex within a mixed use district with a special use permit.

County approves intent to change allowable uses with special use permit in mixed use areas, considering changes to subdivision regulations

The change was requested by the Sun River Valley Public Schools, but if approved, will apply to mixed use districts countywide. The change was requested by the school district to provide affordable in-district housing in the hopes of attracting and retaining educators in Simms, according to the county planning staff.

Commissioners also approved a final plat for Big Bend subdivision near Fox Farm and Mountain View Estates near the airport. They also approved a preliminary plat for Rolling Meadows subdivision in Ulm.

The development in Ulm is the third phase of Rolling Meadows and includes 14 residential lots ranging from 1.77 acres to 2.42 acres and a 0.58 acre lot that will be dedicated as a utility lot for the water system.

County Commission postpones decision on Ulm subdivision

The Rolling Meadows plat had been pushed from the May 8 commission meeting due to conflict between the developer and the homeowners association for the development. Those issues have since been resolved, according to an attorney for the developer and emails from both parties submitted to planning staff.

The Mountain View Estates project is the second phase and includes 12 residential lots.

County Commission approves more than $2 million in contracts for replacement of grandstands at fairgrounds

Commissioners also amended the budget for the Expo Park grandstands budget since an additional $3,850 was needed for pre-construction costs, including asbestos testing and mitigation as well as utility relocation, according to Clifton, public works director.