by Suzanne Vernon
For the Pathfinder
November 20, 1997
The Missoula County Commissioners last week adopted the new Shoreline Regulations that were written and rewritten by county planners, then critiqued and debated by lakefront property owners during three public meetings held at Seeley Lake and in Missoula late last spring and summer.
The original 53-page document containing the new rules was criticized by lakefront propery owners as being unworkable and intrusive. That document was rewritten by a committee of property owners and county planners this fall, at the request of the Missoula City-County Planning Board, which later recommended that the County Commissioners adopt the regulations.
The new regulations apply to lakefront property on lakes over 20 acres in size in Missoula County, including Salmon Lake, Placid Lake, Seeley Lake, Big Sky Lake, Lake Inez, Lindbergh Lake and Holland Lake. The regulations affect approximately 1,000 people in the Seeley Lake and Condon areas.
Shoreline Regulations control activities in a 20-foot zone above a lake's high-water line. New rules apply to a variety of activities including dock construction, location of pump houses, clearance of vegetation, and decks, houses and other structures. Property owners must now obtain permits, some of which cost several hundred dollars, before they will be allowed to conduct certain activities or build new structures on their lakefront lots.
Exisiting structures are allowed to be maintained under the regulations, with some stipulations pertaining to damage from weather. For example, a structure damaged by more than 50% in a storm can't be replaced unless it complies with the new rules.