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DARBY - Darby rural voters overwhelmingly shot down a measure to consider zoning in southern Ravalli County on Tuesday.

Seventy-five percent of the voters who cast ballots on the measure didn't favor zoning. Voters said no with a vote of 953-311.

However, the measure was a straw poll advisory vote and is not binding.

Only voters living outside the Darby municipality got to vote on the issue because if enacted, zoning would be a county regulation.

Ravalli County commissioners placed the measure on the June 3 ballot after Darby's Community Planning Committee n one of the grass-roots citizen groups working to develop zoning regulations in each school district in the county n asked for a vote on the issue.

South valley residents said they wanted the right to vote on whether to be incorporated in the countywide zoning process currently under way.

All six other school districts were not given the opportunity to have a say on the zoning process.

Now that Darby rural voters opted out of the zoning process, it will be excluded entirely.

Ravalli County Commissioner Greg Chilcott said south valley voters sent their message loud and clear.

"I think the results yesterday confirmed that this was not a vocal minority," Chilcott said. "The CPC did in fact represent the citizens' wishes. The commissioners, I believe, will honor and support the wishes of the Darby vote. The vote yesterday is exactly the reason the citizens should have an opportunity to vote on the final product in November."

Ravalli County Commission chairwoman Carlotta Grandstaff said the commission would honor the Darby rural vote.

Grandstaff said that no one else had "formally" asked for the right to vote on zoning.

Lee Foss, a Bitterroot Valley Realtor and zoning opponent, said that the commission has disenfranchised voters across the county by not allowing them to have a say on the issue.

"By not allowing the people to vote on it, the county commissioners not only have gone after our property rights, but they denied the people a vote," Foss said. "The other county areas were denied due process. It's a strong message to the county commission to see that people don't want zoning."

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