Commission to hold setback hearing next week

Madison County Commissioners will hold a public hearing June 16 concerning the proposed streamside setback regulations on the Madison River and its tributaries.

The meeting is the next required step for commissioners to consider the regulations that have been in the works for three years, said Charity Fechter, planning director for Madison County.

“They hold a public hearing and after a public hearing they may adopt a resolution to adopt the regulations,” Fechter said.

Back in October, the Madison County Planning Board recommended that commissioners institute a streamside setback on properties not coming under subdivision regulations that includes a 500-foot jurisdictional area, 300-foot building setback and 150-foot streamside buffer zone.

The proposal from the steering committee called for what amounted to 75-foot setbacks on the Madison River.

Madison County began the current process of looking into streamside setbacks for land along the Madison and Jefferson Rivers back in 2008. Currently, setbacks along the Madison River are 500 feet for land going through the subdivision process, but there are no setbacks for land that doesn’t fall under the subdivision regulations.

In 2008, the planning board and commissioners formed the streamside setback steering committee, which was a group of nine interested citizens. The committee held more than 20 public meetings, wrestling over the issue and finally issuing a recommendation to the planning board in October 2009.

The planning board also took months of public comment on the topic prior to issuing their recommendations to the county commissioners.

Those in favor of the setback say it will protect the Madison River, a vital economic and natural resource. Those opposed to the setback say it’s a dramatic and unjustified infringement on private property rights.

In November, the county commissioners decided to wait until the newly elected commissioner Dan Happel was sworn in before deciding how to proceed with the planning board’s recommendation. In February, the commission decided to hold a public hearing June 16, which would allow seasonal residents in Madison Valley a chance to speak.

After the public hearing, the commissioners can essentially make any decision they’d like concerning the setbacks, Fechter said. They could decide to adopt the planning board’s recommendation or modify however they see fit, or deny it out right.

If the commissioners choose to adopt a resolution to adopt setback regulations, the resolution will be printed in The Madisonian. The protest period for the regulations will begin at that point, she said.

The public hearing will be held at the Madison County Courthouse in Virginia City at 3 p.m.

For more information about the hearing, call 843-5250.


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