About the Department

Stillwater County’s Planning Office exists to serve the citizens and local governments of Stillwater County in providing planning services for land use, community growth, and change.  Such services include administering the Stillwater County and Town of Columbus Subdivision Regulations, advising the Board of County Commissioners on planning-related issues, advising the Columbus Town Council on planning and zoning issues, and helping the City-County Airport Board with growth and related concerns.

The Planning Office implements the policies of the adopted Growth Management Plans for Columbus and the County, assists local communities in their efforts to plan for themselves, reviews proposed development pursuant to State law, and considers all means by which Stillwater County can have a viable economy without sacrificing the environment that residents and visitors prize most and which is the County’s most valuable asset.

Economic and community development services are available through the Stillwater County Economic Development Department.

The County Planning Office currently serves three Boards which consist of the Joint City-County Airport Board, City-County Planning Board, and the County Planning Board.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question:  Is there zoning in Stillwater County?
Answer:  There is no zoning outside of the City limits of Columbus. However, there is zoning in the City limits of Columbus as well as the jurisdictional area surround Columbus known as the “donut area.”  Stillwater County has recently passed a Resolution of Intent to Adopt Proposed Development and Zoning Regulations.

Question: What do I need for a septic permit?
Answer:  Septic permits and information can be obtained by calling the Environmental Health Department (406) 322-8055.

Question: Are there any building permits?
Answer:  Please contact the State Building Code Bureau for all building permit questions at (406) 841-2056.

Question:  What are the stages to subdivide?
Answer:  Please refer to the Stillwater County Subdivision Regulations.

Question:  What are the setbacks for Stillwater County?
Answer:   While there are no setback regulations in Stillwater County, it is always in the property owner’s best interest to provide a setback, even if only minimal, from the property line to any structure.

Question:  I want to subdivide my property, how do I do that?
Answer:  First, you’ll need to contact an engineer or surveyor. By contacting the Planning department you can request a list of consultants who typically do work in the area. Once you’ve contacted them you will need to develop a concept. Once a concept has been finalized, contact the Planning Office to schedule a pre-application meeting. At that time all details, forms applications, and processes will be identified based on the proposed concept.

Question:  Is a Certificate of Survey a subdivision?
Answer:  No, typically COS’s are reviewed as exempt subdivisions. This means only staff review is required for filing.

Questions:  Is my property zoned?
Answer:  No, Stillwater County does not have any county-wide zoning. You may wish to research whether a citizen-initiated zoning district has been created in your area.

Question:  What are family transfers, mortgage surveys, boundary relocations, and other types of surveys?
Answer:  These are what are called exempt subdivisions. These require only staff review. There is a $200 review fee for all surveys submitted.

Question:  Are there permits needed to build on a lot that is already subdivided?
Answer:  No additional planning permits are needed, but you should always check with the County Sanitarian and Floodplain Administrator in Environmental Health, and Road and Bridge Department to be sure.

Question:  My subdivision has preliminary plat approval, can I sell lots?
Answer:  No. Lots are not conveyable until a subdivision has reached final plat. In order to achieve Final Plat, all conditions of approval and improvements must be installed.

Question:  My neighbor is doing something that isn’t allowed in the subdivision by covenants and restrictions, can the county help me enforce these issues?
Answer:  No. The County does not have the authority to enforce Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. These are private restrictions between the subdivision and its property owners.

Question:  Is my home in the floodplain?
Answer:  Please contact the Stillwater County Certified Floodplain Manager at 406-322-8055 for more information or visit the FEMA Flood Map Service Center online.

Featured Links

Montana Cadastral


Stillwater County
South Annex
17 N 4th St
P.O. Box 881
Columbus, MT 59019
(406) 322-1118


Forrest Mandeville Contracted Planner

Stephanie Ray Community/Economic Development Director

Christine Baker Planning Support Specialist