About the Department

The Planning Department has relocated to the lower level of the West Annex at 431 Quarry Road, Columbus.

The Stillwater County Planning Board is currently working on updating the County’s 2017 Subdivision Regulations.  To view the current proposed Subdivision Regulations changes & updates, please CLICK HERE.  For questions or comments, please contact Stillwater County’s contracted Planner, Forrest Mandeville at 406-690-1933 or Forrest@ForrestMandevilleConsulting.com

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:  The County recently adopted new Development Regulations and a new Development Permitting Process.  Please CLICK HERE to view

QuestionWhat do I need for a septic permit?
Answer:  Please fill out the Coordinated Permit Checklist (PDF) for internal routing for permitting. Septic information can be obtained by calling the Environmental Health Department (406) 322-8055

QuestionAre there any permits needed for development in Stillwater County?
Answer:  Please fill out the Coordinated Permit Checklist (PDF) for all development projects in Stillwater County and return it to the Planning Office for internal routing and applicable permitting review.  A Conditional Use Permit (PDF) is required for all new multi-family, planned unit developments, commercial or industrial development.  The Planning Office will then route the submitted form(s) to the internal permitting departments for comment and instructions to follow up if necessary with the County Sanitarian; Floodplain Administrator in Environmental Health, GIS/ Rural Addressing, and Road and Bridge Department.  Please contact the State Building Code Bureau for all other building questions (electrical, plumbing, snow loads, etc.) at (406) 841-2056.

Question:  What is the Work Camp Plan Review Process in Stillwater County?
Answer:  Work Camps are facilities that are for the exclusive use of the employees and the employees’ family members of the person or company that owns or operates the facilities.   Please fill out the DPHHS Work Camp Review Plan (PDF).  Please also submit a completed Coordinated Permit Checklist (PDF) and a Conditional Use Permit (PDF) to the Planning Office.  If the proposed facility will be serving other individuals, you must complete a plan review for trailer courts, campgrounds, hotels, motels, and/or boarding houses.

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

Question:  What are the setbacks for Stillwater County?
Answer:   There are no setback regulations in Stillwater County for residential properties however, 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.  There is a minimum 10-foot setback for a Conditional Use Permit (PDF) for all new multi-family, planned unit developments, commercial or industrial development.  CLICK HERE to view 

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.

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:  Please fill out the Coordinated Permit Checklist and submit it to the Planning Office.  The Planning Office will then route the form to the internal permitting departments for comment and follow up if necessary with the County Sanitarian and Floodplain Administrator in Environmental Health, GIS/ Rural Addressing and Road and Bridge Department

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


West Annex
431 Quarry Road
P.O. Box 1287
Columbus, MT 59019


Forrest Mandeville Contracted Planner

Stephanie Ray Community/Economic Development Director

Christine Baker Planning Support Specialist