County waives fees for certain permits to rebuild for those affected by Gibson Flats fires

Cascade County Commissioners voted unanimously during their Dec. 14 meeting to waive county permit fees for floodplain permit, location/conformance permit and special use permit applications, for the exclusive purpose of cleanup and rebuilding from the fire damage cause by the Dec. 1 fire in the Gibson Flats area.

The majority of the Gibson Flats area impacted by the fire is with the special/regulated flood hazard area from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency and requires an emergency notification be submitted to the county planning department within five days of any work being performed.

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On Dec. 3, the county sent a press release notifying impacted residents of that requirement but did not mention any fee information or their plan to waive fees.

There is no fee to submit the emergency notification, according to Charity Yonker, county planning director.

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According to the county, the work requiring an emergency notification includes, but is not limited to, structural debris removal, excavation, grading, and/or placing any structures within the special flood hazard area. All affected properties can submit one floodplain permit application for the debris removal, Yonker told The Electric.

Recreation vehicles may be placed in the special flood hazard area for no more than 180 consecutive days but must remain road ready, according to the county.

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Once property owners have cleaned up fire damage, they’d need to obtain a floodplain permit to rebuild any structures in the area, and that permit fee is $250, according to county planning.

The location/conformance permits or special use permits would be needed for building new structures in the area and would need to comply with current zoning regulations and building codes.

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The location/conformance permit application fee is $50 pre-work and $200 post-work. A special use permit application is $450. The SUP application includes location/conformance permit fees, according to the fee schedule on the county website.

The commission voted on Dec. 14 to waive all of those fees through Dec. 31, 2022 for those affected by the fires for any work done in relation to rebuilding after the fire.

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Commissioner Joe Briggs said the county cannot waive the emergency notification or floodplain permits entirely for those affected because they are required by federal law, but they can waive the local fees associated with those permits.

Commissioners said any of those affected who have questions about their property taxes should contact the Montana Department of Revenue.