I attended a meeting of the Yellowstone County Commissioners on March 27 as an opponent of a proposed zone change on Barrett Road. In a 2-1 vote, Yellowstone County commissioners approved a zone change; Commissioners John Ostlund and Robyn Driscoll supported the zone change, while Denis Pitman voted against it.
Commissioner Ostlund chaired the meeting. He allowed proponents of the zone change to talk without limit. All but three proponents were individuals paid by the developer. Two proponents were Heights residents and one was a West End resident. All opponents were Heights residents who lived east of Main Street near the proposed change. The chair repeatedly interrupted opponents to ask if they had anything new to add because they needed to move on. This flustered residents and may have suppressed the comments from others.
Prior to the vote, the commissioners were advised to state their rationale for voting for the record. Driscoll stated she felt the zone change met the standards and named the numbers but without any clarification; Ostlund did the same. Denis Pitman began to explain his rationale when he was interrupted by the chairman and unable to finish his comments.
We have seen this behavior before. Two county commissioners vote in unison while blocking the input of the third. I am extremely disappointed by the behavior I observed. County commissioner meetings do not get the coverage of a city council meeting; the lack of accountability is visible in their behavior.