A group of property owners near where the proposed Yellowstone Disposal landfill is planned to be located have prepared a citizen initiated zoning district request. During a public comment hearing, the request was approved by Richland County commissioners this week.

Residents say the primary goal of the McGlynn Reservoir Zoning District is to make sure regulations are carefully followed if the Yellowstone Disposal landfill starts operations. Currently, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality is considering Yellowstone Disposal’s application after holding two public meetings in Sidney.

The public comment hearing with the commissioners featured six residents speaking in favor of the zoning district. No one spoke against the proposal.

At one point, Commissioner Duane Mitchell said, “I think we all agree the location sucks.”

Prior to accepting public comment, Montana Association of Counties’ attorney Tara DePuy told commissioners that their decision should be based on the public’s interest and/or convenience. “Those words aren’t defined anywhere, so it’s up to you for interpretation.”

Resident Devin Bell said about the zoning district, “It has the potential to protect public health and agriculture and residential living.”

Resident Tim Leland also supported the proposal. “We need some sort of protection. It’s too close to a populated area. And its elevation bothers me too.”

John Sult added, “Anything to protect us and our property values are both interests of the community.”

Raymond Bell noted his biggest concern is to have some local authority regarding regulations. He said crops that go into the food chain market grow just a half-mile from the proposed landfill’s location. “I want to monitor what goes inside these places.”

Property owners said that the proposed landfill sits less than two miles from Rau Elementary School.

Devin Bell and Rowdy Cvancara each mentioned that people are concerned about safety and health issues.

Patty Petrik said officials should be aware of how many bus stops are located in the area.

“These guys didn’t decide to build around a landfill,” Devin Bell said of property owners. “A landfill decided to build in their backyard.”

Although there wasn’t any comments at the meeting against the citizen initiated zoning district, Mitchell said he’s heard people say the action tries to restrict development of private land.

“What’s the solution, is it zoning?” Mitchell asked.

Mitchell said that the Yellowstone Disposal representative said they aren’t going to receive radioactive materials, but Mitchell said they might have a different definition of radioactive.

DePuy noted that legally the zoning district can’t exceed DEQ’s standards. 

After the public comment portion of the meeting, Gorder listed what he considered were the key points presented. Those comments included protecting public health and safety; protecting property value; Rau School’s students; storm runoff impact on McGlynn Reservoir, human drinking water, livestock water, wildlife, livestock wells, Bennie Peer and the Yellowstone River; traffic litter; high winds because of high elevation with a large amount of garbage blowing; agriculture products grown for human-related food; and that the proposed landfill is 260-feet elevated between its highest point to McGlynn Reservoir.

Richland County Commissioner Loren Young said he was in agreement with Gorder’s comments.

“I’m all for landfill disposals but just not the space its at,” Mitchell said.

The motion to approve the citizen initiated zoning district passed by a 3-0 vote.

There is now a 30-day protest period regarding the zoning district. 

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