Laurel power plant still snagged by zoning issues

Back in 2021, the Laurel City Council was staring down a crowded room as it considered whether to make a zoning change to accommodate NorthWestern Energy’s plans to build a gas-fired power plant south of town.

The building site for the power plant, zoned agricultural, was within the one-mile reach of the Laurel’s zoning authority. A group of neighbors across the Yellowstone River from the property was arguing that the power plant would harm their property values and quality of life.

Neighbors opposed to a new NorthWestern Energy natural gas power plant near Laurel gather in November of 2021 to talk about the project. From left, Kasey and Aaron Felder, Steve Krum, Calvin Lance and Carol Blades look over the proposed location.

LARRY MAYER, Billings Gazette

The City Council pulled back. The holidays were coming up. A new mayor was to be seated in a couple weeks and the town’s attorney came down with COVID-19. A month went by, and city officials started wondering out loud about whether the zoning decision was theirs to make. The new mayor told Lee Montana

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