What would have been the first test of Gallatin County’s interpretation of a new state law did not happen as planned.
An appeal hearing before the Gallatin County Planning and Zoning Commission scheduled for Thursday was canceled. The issue at hand was the county’s interpretation of House Bill 257 and its effect on zoning regulation enforcement.
However, a decision at a planning and zoning commission hearing in late April scuttled the appeal.
The appeal centered around the county’s closure of a compliance case in February against the Corral Bar south of Big Sky.
Ed Hake, the owner of snowmobile rental company Canyon Adventures, filed a complaint against the bar for renting snowmobiles and side-by-sides from its property. The county closed the case.
The county’s reasoning was that the state law, sponsored by Rep. Jedediah Hinkle, R-Belgrade, prevents the county from stopping the bar from continuing to rent snowmobiles because it would compel “a private business to deny a customer access to goods or services.”
Edward Jordan Holdings and Summit Motorsports, the companies that own the Corral Bar and operate the snowmobile rental business, requested that the Gallatin County Planning and Zoning Commission determine the definition of “retail” and retail uses in the zoning subdistrict that the property is in.
Previously, the companies requested a zoning map amendment for the property to a subdistrict that allowed rental operations to happen. That request was denied.
On April 28, the planning commission decided that the definition of “retail,” which is a permitted use in the subdistrict, includes the rental of tangible property, like snowmobiles and side-by-sides.
Zach Brown, Gallatin County commissioner and chair of the zoning commission, said that renting snowmobiles being a part of the definition of “retail” struck him as “a common thing.”
The decision did however sideline what was meant to be the first test of the county’s interpretation of HB 257.
“That settled that particular issue but we’re going to keep tripping over (House Bill) 257 in lots of big and small ways,” Brown said.
John Nesbitt, a lawyer for Canyon Adventures, said that he decided to pull the appeal because there was “no point.”
He said that if the appeal had gone forward, the county likely would have countered with there being no reason to reopen the compliance investigation because the bar and its snowmobile rental business were now operating lawfully.
Nesbitt said that he plans to request the district court to review the zoning commission’s interpretation of “retail.”
Robert Baldwin, the attorney for the owners of the Corral Bar, did not provide comment by deadline.