Thursday, January 18, 2018

Citizens speak out against forced proposed planning change

Several landowners have spoken out against the county plan to change agriculture land to other classifications in the beltway of Columbus. A petition was presented to the Columbus City Council prior to the Jan. 3, 2017, meeting. This petition is based on MCA Title 76, Chapter 2, Part 9, and Right to Farm, under which agriculture is protected. In the definition of “Low Density” and residential classification agriculture activity is restricted or eliminated.
The bait and switch in the new 20-year plan is operations can continue as they are, however, the new classification would be applied. Our argument is why change the classification from agriculture?
This is a material fact that would be disclosed at the time of a land transfer. Had that been the case at the time my wife and I purchased the property we would not have bought the place. Our concern would have been we would not be able to carry on our agriculture activities. We feel it is our concern, this is an infringement on our private property rights.
This plan is to help guide further development and zoning. However unless a person is clairvoyant how can anyone predict 20 years ahead with complete accuracy? The economic climate could change either up and down.
There are all ready plenty of regulations in place of zoning.
I applaud Mayor Gary Woltermann for allowing me to speak. This allowed the council members to clearly see both sides of the issue.
To state the landowners do not understand is folly. The planners have not taken the time to understand the landowners concerns, or there is a hidden agenda we are not aware of. There has been too much time spent trying to force their plan rather than concerning the issue and moving on.

Richard Sidwell
Columbus

•Editor’s Note: The proposed Land Use Map presented by the joint city-county planning board to the Columbus City Council was a non-binding document that had no impact on zoning. It was to have been used solely as a planning tool. The matter is being presented to the council again.