County planning board finds growth policy adequate; asks for zoning, medical marijuana amendments

The Cascade County planning board voted 4-2 not to revise the growth policy.

After about three hours of discussion the majority of the board decided that the policy that was adopted in 2014 remained adequate today.

County reviewing growth policy

The board largely agreed that the five primary goal included in the 2014 document had not changed.

Those five goals are:

  • sustain and strengthen the economic well-being of Cascade County’s citizens;
  • protect and maintain Cascade County’s rural character and the community’s historic relationship with natural resource development;
  • maintain agricultural economy;
  • retain the presence of the U.S. military in Cascade County;
  • preserve and enhance the rural, friendly and independent
    lifestyle currently enjoyed by Cascade County’s citizens.

Second hearing set for proposed Cascade County zoning changes

A number of residents asked the county to revise the document to address issues including environmental issues such as water, climate change; as well as addressing distinctions between industrial agriculture and family farms. Some speakers asked the board to wait until the 2020 census was completed before attempting any change to the growth policy.

Since April, the county had received about 30 written comments related to the growth policy and about 15 people spoke during Tuesday’s meeting.

Elliot Merja, planning board chair, asked several speakers to offer specifics on what they wanted to see changed in the growth policy and said that many of the issues were better addressed in the zoning regulations.

Cascade County continuing review of proposed changes to zoning regulations

Last month, Richard Liebert, a planning board member, pushed the planning staff to review the growth policy as required under state law. That review process and request for public participation effectively put the county staff’s proposed amendments to the zoning regulations on hold.

During the May 21 meeting, the board directed staff to revise their report and analysis on their proposed zoning amendments based on public comment.

The board also directed staff to draft an amendment to the rules regarding medical marijuana to allow it in the I-2 and commercial zoning districts and adjust the setback requirements.

Those items haven’t yet been scheduled for planning board consideration. The next planning board meeting is June 4 and two subdivision items are on the agenda so far.