(1) Within 30 days of determining that a bond release application is administratively complete pursuant to 82-4-232(6)(h), MCA, the department shall, weather permitting, inspect and evaluate the reclamation work. The surface owner, agent, or lessee shall be given notice of such inspection and may participate with the department in making the bond release inspection. Upon request of any person described in ARM 17.24.1112(2), the department may arrange with the permittee to allow that person access to the permit area for the purpose of gathering information relevant to the proceeding.
(2) The department shall hold a public hearing if written objections are filed and a public hearing is requested within 30 days of the last publication of notice of application. The public hearing must be held in the locality of the permit area for which bond release is sought or in Helena, at the option of the objector.
(a) Notice of a public hearing must be published in the Montana Administrative Register at least two weeks before the date of hearing and in a newspaper of general circulation in the locality of the hearing for two consecutive weeks before the date of the hearing.
(b) The public hearing must be held within 30 days from the date of the hearing request.
(c) The requirements of the Montana Administrative Procedure Act do not apply to the conduct of the public hearing.
(d) An electronic or stenographic record must be made of the hearing and the record maintained for access by the parties, until final release of the bond, unless recording is waived by all of the parties to the hearing.
(e) Without prejudice to the rights of an objector or the applicant, the department may hold an informal conference to resolve written objections. The department shall make a record of the informal conference unless the record is waived by all parties. The record must be accessible to all parties.