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Agricultural Lands Mitigation

Under state law, counties must examine the impact of subdivisions on agriculture.  For the last nearly 10 years, Missoula County has been in the process of creating these standards.  One goal of these standards is to prevent the loss of lands designated as having agricultural importance.  

The most recently proposed draft regulations require mitigation for developing lands defined as "agricultural lands." The mitigation options include a per acre fee, a 1:1 land set aside, and cluster/conservation development (for use in some limited cases). Which option is required is solely up to the county commissioners.  

Which lands are "agricultural lands" and thus require mitigation is a subject of much discussion.  Whether or not to broaden the current definition of agricultural lands to include lands with "soils of local importance" has been controversial.  Doing so would greatly increase the amount of acreage that would require mitigaiton if developed. Mitigation costs money, and the larger the scope of the regulations, the greater the potential costs imposed upon homeowners, landowners, and businesses.

The Chamber will continue monitoring the county's discussion of agricultural lands mitigation and efforts to update subdivision regulations, and will continue its ongoing efforts to bring forward agricultural producers to the discussion.

Additional Information:

August 2015 DRAFT regulations and County memo