The Ravalli County Planning Board reviewed the growth-related data requested by the Ravalli County Commissioners last week—and then decided it was too complicated and too incomplete to forward to the commissioners for review.
On Tuesday, Ravalli County Commissioner Jack Atthowe said, “We met with the senior planner today and he said information would be coming but gave no timeline. We have no idea what it is. The deadline was Dec. 1. We expected a summary report backed up by various documents.”
On Dec. 1, the planning board met to consider documentation on growth impacts in Ravalli County which had been prepared by the planning staff. And many board members believed that the information was both too complex and not complete enough for the commissioners to easily understand or use to reach a workable conclusion.
In mid-September the county commissioners had directed the planning board to compile information on growth in the county to help the commissioners decide if a comprehensive growth plan is needed. That information was to include existing land use, population trends, housing, surface and ground water impacts, and economic issues.
Much of the compiled data is in the form of charts, maps and statistics and planning board members called it both “overwhelming” and an “overload.” Other board members said the information wasn’t detailed enough because it left out impacts on county roads, school districts and emergency services.
“It was confusing,” said long-time planning board member Bob Christ. “It wasn’t explained to us. There wasn’t a narrative to go along with the maps that were provided and there should have been.” Christ said he expected the commissioners to review the information and perhaps request more before they reach a final decision.
The information was requested to provide a basis for a decision on whether the county should proceed with a comprehensive growth plan, Atthowe said. A number of proposed plans have been started and abandoned over the past nine years. All have been controversial. The 1981 growth plan, which was little more than a series of policy statements, was repealed in September after the commissioners received legal advice that it was too vague to be enforceable. A more modern version of the same document was defeated as a ballot issue by county voters in 1998.