County proposing changes to zoning regulations

UPDATE: The planning board will review the proposed zoning changes on Feb. 19 at 9 a.m. at the Courthouse Annex.

Cascade County staff is proposing substantial changes to the current zoning regulations.

The county planning division has posted the proposed changes here and is seeking public feedback.

The planning division intends to hold a public hearing with the planning board to allow for public comments and then request a recommendation from the board to the County Commission at a subsequent hearing.

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

On the county website, it states that no timeline has been set for those meetings, but during this week’s county planning board meeting, county staff said they’re planning a public hearing in February at a planning board meeting for an initial review. They’d then ask the planning board to take action on the recommended changes during a March meeting, staff said this week.

Written comments are being accepted at the planning office; by U.S. mail to 121 4th St N, STE 2H/I, Great Falls, MT 59401, by email at, or fax at 406-454-6919.

Updating the zoning regulations are a staff priority and they also have plans to review the floodplain regulations in the near future, staff said during this week’s planning board meeting.

Cascade County zoning regulations continue to evolve since 2005 creation

The proposed changes were posted on Thursday and The Electric is still reviewing the document, but some proposed definition changes of note are listed below.

Some definitions are proposed for updates, including agricultural use, which would be defined as “the use of land for crop production, animal production, aquaculture, apiculture, entoculture or forestry.”

Alcohol distillery is also proposed for a definition update to “a place and/or building, or portion thereof, that is used or intended for the production, packaging, and distribution of beverage grade alcohol from the distillation of fermented grains, fruits, or vegetables, honey and the like. Services may include products and sold on-site for consumption along with other beverages and food as well as product sales for off-site consumption.”

Proposed changes include the addition of a definition for an animal feeding operation as: “a lot or building where the following conditions are met: (1) small or large livestock animals (other than aquatic animals) have been, are, or will be stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of 30 days or more in any 12 month period; (2) crops, vegetation, forage growth, or post-harvest residues are not sustained in the normal growing season over any portion of the lot or building.

Animal production is defined in the proposed update as “to raise animals as a process of producing a commodity or multiple commodities. This includes livestock ranching/farming on open range pasture, equine production, apiculture, aquaculture, entoculture.”

The definition of a commercial feedlot is also proposed for revision to: “an animal feeding operation engaged in the raising or fattening of livestock animals for commercial purposes where the animals are confined at a high density relative to open range pasture raising and feeding operations with rotational grazing and stocking rates designed to sustain grazing pastures. Commercial feedlots are distinct from transportation stockyards where livestock are temporarily stabled or boarded as part of a process of transportation. The term does not include 4-H, FFA and other youth experiential learning programs.”

The proposed changes include updating the slaughterhouse definition to: “a place, building or structure where small or large livestock are temporarily stabled prior to slaughter and slaughtered. Additional processing may include butchering, preparing or packaging for off-site distribution of temporary storage for on-site sales.”

Proposed changes would also update the definitions of value added processing facilities and value added products.

The definition of value added products is proposed as: “an agricultural commodity that has undergone any one or more of the following processes: (1) a change in the physical state or form of the commodity (such as milling wheat into flour, curdling
milk in the production of cheese, melting honeycombs to make beeswax); (2) a production process of a manner that enhances its value, as demonstrated through a business plan (such as organically produced products); (3) the physical segregation of an agricultural product in a manner that results in the enhancement of the value of that commodity or product (such as an identity preserved marketing system utilized, for example, in non-GMO products).”

Other definition changes regarding medical marijuana registered premises and medical marijuana testing facilities are proposed.