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Repeal petition gets the go-ahead

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A citizens’ group has won the right to try to repeal recently passed subdivision regulations in Ravalli County, but their task has become more difficult than they anticipated.

Voters Opportunity To Educate (VOTE) formed last year to “to provide support for the county commissioners and … to provide information to the public on county government and issues affecting government.” Two weeks ago, the group filed a petition to repeal subdivision regulations passed recently by the Ravalli County Commissioners.

The petition, which calls for the new regulations to be put before Ravalli County voters for approval, has been accepted and the clock will start ticking on the signature-gathering deadline as soon as a few technical changes are made, according to Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder Betty Lund.

The petition was reviewed and approved by Ravalli County Attorney George Corn, who ruled that VOTE will have to convince 15 percent of the county’s approximately 28,000 voters—4,200 of them—that the petition is worthy of their signatures. If the drive is successful within its 90-day time limit, the measure will be placed on the ballot in 2002. If VOTE gathers signatures from 25 percent of the registered voters—7,000—the measure will be placed on a special ballot in its own election.

The subdivision regulations are in force now and will remain in effect until and unless the petition is approved. The successful completion of the signature portion of the ballot initiative would suspend the regulations until voters decide the petition’s fate, according to VOTE secretary Howard Lyons. Corn said he still has to research that portion of the petition statute.

The commissioners held a series of public meetings during the spring to receive public comment on the proposed regulations. In those meetings, parts of the regulations met with heavy opposition from large landowners and developers, particularly the requirement to pave roads from the entrance of large subdivisions to the nearest paved county road.

VOTE opposes the subdivision regulations, questioning the legality of some provisions and saying others were poorly written and unclear. Organizers say they “hope to delay the implementation of the regulations and send a message to county government to pay attention to the voters of the county.”

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