Does the Missoula County Attorney’s office have an adversarial relationship with Missoula County property owners? That was one of the topics at this week’s State of the Community discussion in Missoula, which touched upon lawsuits aimed at the Dunrovin Ranch and the fallout after the county lost its case.

Missoula County Commissioner Michele Landquist says that there is a lot of information the public has missed about this case, including that the original complaint was brought by neighbors of the ranch. Still, she says there are things that need to be fixed at the county level. Landqist says the adversarial approach can be found in one specific department of the Missoula County Attorney's Office.

"It's the civil side of the county attorney's office that works with one particular segment of the health department and that is where a lot of the civil actions against these landowners is taking place," Landquist said.

Another element that the public may have overlooked, were efforts on the part of the county commissioners to reach mediation without a lawsuit. Even though money was set aside to facilitate these talks, the lawsuit went ahead anyway, driven by members of the county attorney's office and the health department.  Landquist believes the health department has gone too far in its policies surrounding sanitary review.

"I hate throwing the health department under the bus, because they just got national accreditation on so many other wonderful things that they do," Landquist said. "There are rules and regulations for a reason, but the way they targeted Dunrovin Ranch... it was over the top."

Landquist says the county commissioners are working at reforming the way the county handles a myriad of issues, including the subdivision issues that plagued the dunrovin ranch. Meetings with the public on how to reform the process are set to begin next month.

Michele Landquist: