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Planning Department Services Family Transfer - Lincoln County Montana
Lincoln County Planning Department Family Transfers

Exempt Plat Reviews 

The State of Montana allows for certain divisions of land, which would otherwise constitute subdivisions, to be exempt from local subdivision review and approval, unless the division is an attempt to evade the Montana Subdivision and Platting Act (MSPA). While exempt plats are not subject to subdivision review (76-3-201, 207 MCA), they are subject to survey requirements, zoning where applicable, and a brief examination for errors and omissions by the County.  While state law does not identify a specific review process for exempt plats, Lincoln County has adopted an examination process for the types of land divisions, as outlined below:

  • The first step is to hire a surveyor after confirming with the Planning Department that the exemption you are requesting is valid and legal. The Planning Department cannot recommend any surveyors, however any Montana State licensed surveyor is permissible.
  • Once the survey is complete, the surveyor will submit a copy of the check print (paper copy) of the Certificate of Survey and any associated documents, and the review fee, to the Planning Department for review and routing. The check print survey will be scheduled for a Plat Review Meeting involving all pertinent County departments for corrections and comments.  Digital Copies submitted to County contracted Land Surveyor must be “cc” to the Lincoln County Planning department ().
  • Once the Plat Review Meeting is completed and all pertinent County departments have commented and signed off, typically within 2-3 weeks, the County will mail the check copy to the surveyor with any corrections that need to be made prior to submittal of the final mylar survey and associated documents.
  • Once the mylar and documents are submitted, it will be redistributed to the appropriate reviewing agencies for signatures. The time frame for routing is dependent upon when the surveyor resubmits it to the Planning Department and could take an additional 2-3 weeks for processing prior to recording of the mylar.
  • The Lincoln County Clerk & Recorder’s Office or the Planning Department will contact the applicant once the plat is ready to be filed. A recording fee will be charged at that time.

Family Transfer/Conveyance

Under Montana law any division of land must be reviewed with public notice, under local criteria set forth in subdivision regulations for the purpose of protecting public health, safety and welfare. State law however, allows for a family member to give a single gift of property, outside a platted subdivision, to each immediate family member without the public review process. Historically, this law met a need for large agricultural owners to provide land for continued farming by a son or daughter. However, the law has been abused over time. The County must assure that such family transfers are not done for the purpose of evading subdivision review and in 1984 it established certain criteria which must be met for family transfers to legitimately be used as an exemption to the subdivision review process. The use of this exemption must also consider the following:

  • One gift or sale of a parcel to each member of the landowner's immediate family in each county is eligible for exemption from subdivision review;
  • The use of the exemption may not result in more than one remaining parcel of less than 160 acres;
  • All resultant parcels of the survey must meet minimum lot sizes prescribed by the zoning on the property, if applicable;
  • A corporation or partnership cannot claim a family exemption;
  • A title in mixed ownership, such as a brother and sister cannot claim the family exemption;
  • Lots within platted subdivisions are not eligible for family exemption.

Any proposed use of the family conveyance exemption to divide a tract that was previously created through use of an exemption shall be presumed to be an evasion of the MSPA if it creates a pattern of development consistent with an overall plan with characteristics such as common roads, utility easements, restrictive covenants, open space or common marketing.

The following are required with the submittal of a Family Transfer/Conveyance survey: 

  1. Family Transfer Application; (Five (5) per application)
  2. Filing Fee of $150.00
  3. One (1) 18x24 paper copy (no larger);
  4. One (1) 8 ½ x 11 copy of Parent Tract (most recent to proposed);
  5. A completed Sanitation Exclusion Checklist
  6. A completed Exempt Plat Review Checklist along with any Supporting documentation required for review; i.e. easements, covenants, etc…;
  7. If the Exemption will create an additional address to a lot currently addressed; or create a lot that requires an address, an application for a Request for Physical Address & associated shall be included;
  8. If the Exemption will create a new access requiring a road name, an application for a Private Road, Road Sign & associated fee(s) will be required;
  9. Properly executed draft(s) of the deed(s) to the family member(s) receiving the parcel(s).

Utility/Right-Of-Way 

This exemption applies to a division of land created for the purpose of rights-of-ways or utility sites on a property. Any subsequent change in the use of the property as residential, commercial or industrial uses shall subject the land division to the subdivision regulations. 

The following are required with the submittal of a Utility/Right-Of-Way survey: 

  1. One (1) 18x24 paper copy (no larger & no smaller than 12x20);
  2. One (1) 8 ½ x 11 copy of Parent Tract (most recent to proposed);
  3. Filing Fee: $100.00;
  4. A completed Sanitation Exclusion Checklist
  5. A completed Exempt Plat Review Checklist along with any documentation required for review; i.e. easements, covenants, copy of lease, etc… 
  6. If the Exemption will create an additional address to a lot currently addressed; or create a lot that requires an address, an application for a Request for Physical Address & associated shall be included;
  7. If the Exemption will create a new access requiring a road name, an application for a Private Road, Road Sign & associated fee(s) will be required;
  8. If this is a Utility Lease site, provide a copy of the lease agreement.

Court Ordered Exemption

This is a division of land created by order of any court of record in this state or by operation of law, or in the absence of agreement between the parties to the sale, could be created by an order of any court in this state pursuant to the law of eminent domain. 

The following are required with the submittal of a Court Order Exemption survey: 

  1. A Court Ordered Exemption Application
  2. One (1) 18x24 paper copy (no larger & no smaller than 12x20);
  3. One (1) 8 ½ x 11 copy of Parent Tract (most recent to proposed);
  4. Filing Fee: $150; ($300 if this process is skipped & Order of Decree is already signed before planning has had a chance to review)
  5. A copy of the Courts Order (before being signed by a judge);
  6. A completed Sanitation Exclusion Checklist
  7. A completed Exempt Plat Review Checklist along with any documentation required for review; i.e. easements, covenants, etc…
  8. If the Exemption will create an additional address to a lot currently addressed; or create a lot that requires an address, an application for a Request for Physical Address & associated shall be included;
  9. If the Exemption will create a new access requiring a road name, an application for a Private Road, Road Sign & associated fee(s) will be required;
  10. A properly executed draft of the deed(s) to the family member(s) receiving the parcel(s).

Retracement / Correction Surveys

Except as provided in 70-22-105, MCA, within 180 days of the completion of a survey, the registered land surveyor responsible for the survey, whether the surveyor is privately or publicly employed, shall prepare and submit for filing a certificate of survey in the county in which the survey was made if the new survey: 

The following are required with the submittal of a Retracement/Correction survey: 

  1. One (1) 18x24 paper copy (no larger & no smaller than 12x20);
  2. One (1) 8 ½ x 11 copy of Parent Tract (most recent to proposed);
  3. Filing Fee: $100;
  4. A completed Sanitation Exclusion Checklist
  5. A completed Exempt Plat Review Checklist along with any documentation required for review; i.e. easements, covenants, etc…;
  6. If the Exemption will create an additional address to a lot currently addressed; or create a lot that requires an address, an application for a Request for Physical Address & associated shall be included;
  7. If the Exemption will create a new access requiring a road name, an application for a Private Road, Road Sign & associated fee(s) will be required.

BLA / Aggregation of Lots

The intended purpose of this exemption is to allow a change in the location of a boundary line between two parcels without subdivision review. If the relocation of a common boundary would result in the permanent creation of an additional parcel of land, the division of land must be reviewed as a subdivision. If a temporary tract is created, language shall be added to indicate that the temporary tract is merged forever with the adjacent tract. Within a platted subdivision, a division of lots that redesigns or rearranges six or more lots must be reviewed and approved by the governing body and an amended plat must be filed with the County Clerk and Recorder in accordance with the Amended Plat procedures found in the Subdivision Regulations. 

The following are required with the submittal of a BLA / Aggregation of Lots survey: 

  1. A BLA/Aggregation Application
  2. One (1) 18x24 paper copy (no larger & no smaller than 12x20);
  3. One (1) 8 ½ x 11 copy of Parent Tract (most recent to proposed);
  4. Filing Fee: $100 for surveys (retracements, mortgage, BLA’s, etc…);
  5. A completed Sanitation Exclusion Checklist;
  6. A completed Exempt Plat Review Checklist along with any documentation required for review; i.e. easements, covenants, etc…;
  7. If the ownership of all parcels with common boundaries being relocated is not the same, then a Quit Claim Deed to the owner receiving the additional land;
  8. If the Exemption will create an additional address to a lot currently addressed; or create a lot that requires an address, an application for a Request for Physical Address & associated shall be included;
  9. If the Exemption will create a new access requiring a road name, an application for a Private Road, Road Sign & associated fee(s) will be required.

 Mortgage (Construction), Lien, Trust Indentures

The purpose of this exemption is to allow the creation of a parcel to provide financing security for mortgages, liens, or trust indentures for construction, improvements to the land being divided, or refinancing purposes. Under policies of many lending institutions and federal home loan guaranty programs, a landowner who is seeking financing for improvements to a tract of land is required to hold title to the specific site on which the residence or improvements will be built. 

The use of this exemption is presumed to have been used for the purpose of evading the MSPA if: 

  • It will create a site for more than one dwelling unit;
  • The loan is for someone other than the owner of record or the recorded contract purchaser of the parcel to be divided;
  • It will create a pattern of development which is equivalent to a subdivision with characteristics such as common roads, sewer, water, utility easements, restrictive covenants, open space or a common marketing or promotional plan.

This exemption may be used to create a parcel of any size, regardless of zoning limitations that may be in place; however, the created parcel may not be conveyed to any other entity, except the lending institution in the event of foreclosure of the mortgage, lien, or trust indenture. 

The following are required with the submittal of a Mortgage/Lien/Trust Indenture survey: 

  1. One (1) 18x24 paper copy (no larger & no smaller than 12x20);
  2. One (1) 8 ½ x 11 copy of Parent Tract (most recent to proposed);
  3. Filing Fee: $100 for surveys (retracements, mortgage, BLA’s, etc…);
  4. A completed Sanitation Exclusion Checklist
  5. A signed letter from the lender on their letterhead requesting the survey and stating the reason for the survey;
  6. A completed Exempt Plat Review Checklist along with any documentation required for review; i.e. easements, covenants, etc…  
  7. If the Exemption will create an additional address to a lot currently addressed; or create a lot that requires an address, an application for a Request for Physical Address & associated shall be included;
  8. If the Exemption will create a new access requiring a road name, an application for a Private Road, Road Sign & associated fee(s) will be required.

Argricultural Exemption

The intention of this exemption is to allow a landowner to create a parcel that will be used only for production of livestock or agricultural crops and where no residential, commercial, or industrial buildings will be built. Agricultural Purpose, for purposes of these exemption criteria, means the use of land for raising crops or livestock, or for the preservation of open space, and specifically excludes residential structures and facilities for commercially processing agricultural products. Agricultural lands under this exemption are exempt from review by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), provided the applicable exemption is properly invoked by the property owner. 

The following conditions must be met or the use of the exemption will be presumed to have been adopted for the purposes of evading the MSPA: 

  • The parties to the transaction by gift, sale, or agreement, must enter into a covenant running with the land and revocable only by mutual consent of the governing body and the property owner that the divided land will be used exclusively for agricultural purposes or open space. The covenant must be signed by the property owner, the buyer or lessee, and the governing body;
  • The landowner must demonstrate that the planned use of the exempted parcel is for agricultural purposes and that no residential, commercial or industrial buildings will be built (e.g., a statement signed by the owner or buyer);
  • Any change in use of the land for anything other than agricultural purposes subjects the parcel to full review as a subdivision. Residential, commercial and industrial structures, including facilities for commercial processing of agricultural products, are prohibited uses on parcels created under this exemption unless the covenant is revoked and the land division is reviewed as a subdivision. The governing body must approve lifting the agricultural covenant;
  • Lots within platted subdivisions are not eligible for agricultural exemptions.

The following are required with the submittal of an Agricultural Exemption survey: 

  1. An Agricultural Exemption Application;
  2. One (1) 18x24 paper copy (no larger & no smaller than 12x20);
  3. One (1) 8 ½ x 11 copy of Parent Tract (most recent to proposed);
  4. Filing Fee: $150;
  5. A  completed Sanitation Exclusion Checklist
  6. An Acceptance of Certificate of Survey - Agricultural Exemption form to be recorded shall be completed and signed by the Governing Body; 
  7. A Certification of Exemption, also to be know as a covenant running with the land, shall be placed on the face of the plat (the approved language can be found below).  Said covenant shall include the owner’s and governing body’s signatures;
  8. A completed Exempt Plat Review Checklist along with any documentation required for review; i.e. easements, covenants, etc… 
  9. If the Exemption will create an additional address to a lot currently addressed; or create a lot that requires an address, an application for a Request for Physical Address & associated shall be included;
  10. If the Exemption will create a new access requiring a road name, an application for a Private Road, Road Sign & associated fee(s) will be required.

Exempt Plat Forms

  Exempt Plat Review Checklist (PDF)
  Certifications of Exemption Language (WORD)
  Sanitation Exclusion Checklist (PDF) 

  Family Transfer Application (PDF)
  Family Transfer Procedures & Evasion Criteria (PDF)


  Court Ordered Exemption Application (PDF) 

  Mortgage (Construction) Exemption Application (PDF) 


  Agricultural Exemption Application (PDF) 
  Acceptance of Certificate of Survey (Agricultural Exemption) (WORD)


** Road and Address forms can be found HERE