Guidance for the commissioners
In your front page article of Sept. 8, Sam Wilson reported on the county commissioners’ meeting dealing with the Creston zoning plan change, which would impact the proposed Creston water bottling plant. Wilson noted that Commissioner Phil Mitchell commented after the meeting that he was “struggling” between his emphasis on property rights protections and the fact that the proposal is a publicly initiated request with strong community support.” He further commented, “The problem I have with this one is it was done on the basis of someone that was unzoned being told what he couldn’t do. If this was done a year ago, this would have been a slam dunk.”
Commissioner Mitchell, let me help you with that struggle. There are a number of reasons that this one still is a slam dunk:
1) When you were sworn in as our county commissioner, you took an oath to defend and support the Constitution of the state of Montana. Under our Constitution, the water, which is the property at issue here, is the property of the people of Montana, not Lew Weaver; your overriding obligation is to support and defend the public property rights under our Constitution.
2) What does the passage of a year have to do with this? Weaver has not been given a green light by any state agency to steal our water yet, and just because he may have taken some action to go ahead with his plans, and spent some of his money as well as that, probably, of his backers, this is his problem, not yours, or that of the public. Why you would feel any tension about this is unfounded.
Believe me, that tension should subside by your making the right decision by allowing this zoning change which will have the effect of supporting the petitioners who want to amend their zoning plan and have met all of the legal requirements to do so, and also you will be doing the right thing by your county constituents whose property interests you are also protecting.
Let’s all hope you and your fellow commissioners make the right decision. —David Eychner, Kalispell