Letter to the Editor

Beartooth Front Coalition zoning regs are unnecessary
Thursday, August 29, 2019

I am concerned about the zoning district that the Beartooth Front Coalition is proposing.

It is my understanding that district will regulate the development of oil and gas in the Southern portion of Stillwater County over and above what the State of Montana mandates.

I feel that there is adequate protection provided by the DEQ, DNRC and other entities that control mining in the state. Many safeguards have been put in place over the years to help protect surface right owners and environmental concerns. My belief is that the BFC simply want to over regulate to the point that there is no mineral development.

If the county adopts this plan they may be required to do the permitting process which is something I don’t believe they are currently equipped to do and there will certainly be a cost to us as taxpayers.

There is also the fact that the BFC is working to deny the mineral rights to their rightful owners without them having any voice in the process. This could be a matter that would have to be decided in the courts and if the county adopts this zoning district we as taxpayers could be on the hook to defend the BFC’s position.

Whenever there is more money needed in this county make no mistake it is the property owners who are asked to pay in a mill levy increase. If this zoning district is in place mineral rights control will be passed over to a board and the property owner who has mineral rights has lost value for which they are not reimbursed.

Mineral development and agriculture have been the driving economic engines in this county for many years and hence they generate much of the tax revenue.

It is my belief that adopting this zoning proposal would hurt both industries as many farm/ranches own at least a portion of their mineral rights and they could be taken and we all know that Stillwater County would be a much different place without mineral development.

BFC currently has a lawsuit against the county regarding this zoning district and I feel we should let the case run its course or we may be paying much more later.

Mark Pederson