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Lewis & Clark County Commission to hold deliberations on Valley zoning proposal

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-06 08:00:37-04

HELENA — After months of debate, the Lewis and Clark County Commission is set to begin its final deliberations Tuesday on a proposal for new zoning rules in the Helena Valley.

Commissioners will hold a meeting on the zoning plan at Helena’s Great Northern Hotel, starting at 9 a.m. They’re expected to take action on the proposed regulations, after taking extensive public comment at a series of hearings over the last two weeks.

The proposed plan would create three zoning districts – one urban, one suburban and one rural – across much of southern Lewis and Clark County. It includes a variety of regulations on things like allowable land uses and building heights. One of the most notable changes would be implementing a minimum lot size of 10 acres in the rural district, to limit density.

County leaders have said zoning is needed to manage growth and create more predictability, and to make it easier to address issues like water availability, wastewater, roads, flooding and fire protection. However, this plan – particularly the 10-acre limit – has drawn strong opposition from a number of Valley landowners. They argue it would create too many restrictions on how property could be used, and that it could threaten property values.

As part of a plan submitted to Lewis and Clark Public Health, the county will limit the number of people allowed inside the hotel conference room for the meeting, and they will be required to wear masks. The public can also listen to the meeting online via Zoom. You can find information on how to do so on the county’s website.

Commissioners are not planning to accept further public comment at Tuesday’s meeting.