The city of Helena, Montana, has no authority to restrict exposed wood materials or require fire-resistant roofing materials as part of an ordinance establishing a citywide wildland-urban interface district, a state District Court judge has ruled. The Independent Record has this report: ("Judge strikes down city fire code," by Sanjay Talwani). Helena had brought suit against homeowners Scott and Megan Svee when the couple replaced a portion of their wood-shingled roof (the city wanted to require fire-resistant roofing in re-roofs affecting more than 10 percent of a roof plane).

But judge Kathy Seeley has agreed with the Svees that the town can't adopt building regulations not endorsed by the statewide agency with authority over building codes, the state Department of Labor and Industry. Wrote Seeley in an opinion: "The statute does not authorize the City to adopt building regulations under the guise of a zoning ordinance. In addition, simply labeling a building regulation a zoning ordinance does not alter its conclusion."

Helena City Attorney says the town may appeal the case to the state Supreme Court. But in the meantime, he says, the city has stopped enforcing its wildland-urban interface zoning ordinance.