05 Jan Flathead County Zoning Department Releases Egan Slough Report
Flathead County Zoning Department Releases Egan Slough Report
The Flathead County Planning Director just released a report stating that he thinks the bottling plant operation is a legal pre-existing nonconforming use in the expanded Egan Slough Zoning District. The group, Egan Slough Community, disagrees! MAWC’s bottling plant had not, and could not, commercially bottle and sell water at the time the bottling plant became subject to the zoning regulations. Egan Slough Community does not agree with the Planning Director’s interpretation of the zoning regulations and will continue to press the issue in Court.
Some historical background:
In the 2008 Russell vs. the Flathead County Supreme Court Case case, an individual purchased a piece of zoned property which had previously been used as a farm. On that property was a building which had previously been used by the prior owner as a location to store and repair his personal farm equipment. The new owner wanted to use that same building for the commercial storage and repair of all sorts of machinery.
In that case, the Montana Supreme Court found: “[the owner] has done more than maintain the existing use. He has expanded the kind, or the nature, of the property’s use to include activities which did not exist at the time of zoning .. and substantially increased the quantity, or the volume, of the new activity beyond that associated with the previous use of the property (from one to three vehicles to twenty to thirty vehicles at a time)” [emphasis added] and found that the expanded use was a violation of the zoning regulations and was not legally allowed.
The Montana Supreme Court ruling explained the proper analysis of what constitutes an unlawful expansion of a preexisting use.
Russell v. Flathead County, 2008 MT 3, ¶ 42