Commissioners target density map news

POLSON — Last week the Lake County Board of CommissionersBill Barron, Dave Stipe and Gale Decker — unanimously voted to pass Resolution 18-11 that articulates the Commissions intent to repeal the Lake County Density Map and Regulations (DMR). The foundation for the DMR was laid 2003 and Lake County Board of Commissioners adopted it in 2005. The purpose of the Lake County Density Map and Regulations is to lessen congestion in the streets; to secure from fire, panic, and other dangers; to promote public health and general welfare, to provide adequate light and air; to prevent the overcrowding of land; to avoid undue concentration of population; and to facilitate the adequate provision of transportation, water, sewerage, schools, parks and other public requirements.

Thompson said the CSKT, as a sovereign nation, is not obligated nor mandated to follow county edicts. However, when it comes to the Density Map, the Tribes use it 100 percent of the time to guide its developments. He also said that the land the CSKT purchases is often returned to its pre-existing natural state and much of it is available for non-tribal member public use, with the appropriate tribal recreational use permits.

Robin Steinkraus, Executive Director of the Flathead Lakers, said the DMR provides a continuity of development guidelines. “It would guide the potential of high-density growth in the rural areas,” she said. “High-density rural subdivisions will attract people from Missoula and Kalispell. The Density Map provides a consistent growth policy. I am for review and revision of the present Density Map. Evaluate the existing regulations and map for deficiencies and revise it.”

“You have no duty to the tribal government. Just do what’s right or you will be the third city to cease to exist,” Willman said. According to her Bighorn and Glacier counties have experienced that and it’s the tribal peoples’ fault. “All of the Glacier County Commissioners are tribal people. Glacier County is being run by tribal people. Lake County is in the crosshairs.”

Janet Camel, CSKT land use planner, read a letter of record from Dale Becker, CSKT Natural Resources Department Wildlife program manager. He said the CSKT have seen their domain drastically shrink since the first encounter. “This land is all the Tribes have left and they do want to purchase back that which was stolen from them,” Becker stated in his letter. “The quality of life is better here because of the open space, clean air, and clean water. The Tribes protect their values in those natural resource areas. I ask you to please retain the Density Map and Regulations.”

Moiese area farmer Dick Erb said he moved to the reservation and county 20 years ago because of the rural and agricultural nature of the land. “The Tribes want to maintain the ruralness of this area,” he said. “Yes, let’s have growth but in areas where services are or can be put in place at nominal costs. There are a lot of positive things going on between the Tribes and non-tribal people. We need that cooperation between the Tribes and county governments. I think we can improve things here to strengthen opportunities for agricultural development.”

Commissioner Bill Barron said he voted against doing away with the DMR as a regulatory document and making it an advisory document two years ago. However, he has changed his stance since. He speculated that 95 percent of the people against the DMR changes haven’t even read it. He said the present document is a risk management document that big developers could skirt around. He also countered the claim that the CSKT were using the DMR 100 percent of the time to guide their development. He said he prays before casting his votes and puts Lake County first. “That’s what I do,” he said.

“The [T]ribes want some control over this growth of non-native people and the DMRs are one tool that can be used,” Decker said. “Along with the ability to control growth, the DMRs helps the [T]ribe stretch the dollars in their ‘Land Buy Back Program’ and allows for the purchase of more acres by keeping land in larger parcels. The more acres they can purchase, the less land there is for non-native people looking to relocate here or some of our young families to remain here.”