A conflict in an evening otherwise filled with agreements for the commissioners
There was a lot to agree on at Tuesday’s Town of Livingston committee meeting. Most of the votes were approved unanimously, with one point being delayed and another adopted by majority. Most of the articles elicited little comment from the public and the Commissioner.
Ordinance No. 3012, a rezoning of two properties owned by Montana Rail Link from Industrial to Highway Commercial was passed unanimously on first reading. The properties are currently used for commercial purposes as a linear mall and office space, and the zoning change was intended to bring the zoning into line with current use and to support the growth policy goals. The ordinance received broad support from the Zoning Coordinator, MRL and City Commissioners. He will be heading for a second reading.
The commissioners adopted Draft Order No. 3013, which aims to update parts of the zoning sections of the Livingston municipal code that relate to cottages, manufactured homes and modular homes. The ordinance was not considered for a final vote this meeting, with city manager Michael Kardoes noting that the new language created inconsistencies in the law. He went on to say, “We have to, I think, look at the whole holistically, make sure that we intentionally match all the different parts of the code, so that we have a more complete look.”
He added: “I think we also probably have to look at how the city wants or not, or does not want to encourage secondary housing construction. ”
The committee tabled the question until it could be updated.
Ordinance No. 3014 proposes to update the pricing structures for zoning applications in order to place the financial burden on developers rather than individuals.
“I think this is another attempt to align the costs with how the community said what they wanted.
the costs need to be aligned – fundamentally, development pays its own way, ”Kardoes said in Tuesday’s session.
When Commissioner Melissa Nootz asked for clarification on the responsibility for this burden, Kardoes confirmed that it landed more with developers than owners, but rare cases would apply. The ordinance was adopted unanimously and will go to second reading.
Order # 3015 is designed to make meetings more efficient, give Commissioners more time to review items, and update the language for new meeting times and the new bulletin location. Meetings are still held every two weeks on the first and third Tuesday of each month, but now the language indicates them as 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. as has been the case for some time. The bulletin board will be between the two entrance doors in the new building at 220 E. Park St.
The ordinance allows the committee to demand agenda items for the next meeting on the Wednesday following a meeting, Kardoes noted. This is to give the board more time to review the staff and the board. Kardoes added that this will likely result in more addenda to accommodate changes after the earlier deadline.
Tuesday’s Livingston Enterprise preview for the panel meeting noted that it appeared the panel was eliminating public comment from future agendas. Tuesday’s agenda package was poorly rated by the city, and the addition of public comment elsewhere on the agenda was missed by Enterprise reports. The ordinance moves public comment earlier in the meeting.
During the commissioner’s comments, Commissioner Dorel Hoglund pointed out that the language of the proposed ordinance has not yet incorporated the gender-neutral terms currently used by the commission, but Kardoes responded that the document is in the process of being developed. ‘to be updated.
The ordinance was adopted unanimously on first reading.
Ordinance No. 3016 was the only issue of the evening that encountered any opposition. The ordinance provides for the addition of two citizen members to the Planning Council. Although the planning board currently has four citizen members, the only residents allowed to hold these positions must be landowners – individuals who own land in the city – appointed by the commission. The two added members could be any resident, with priority going to those who do not own land in the city. This aims to give tenants – who represent around 35% of residents, according to Nootz – representation on the town planning council.
During public comments, Johnathan Hettinger expressed frustration with both the current law and the proposed amendment. Hettinger said the planning board believed it would make the board too large to be effective when they met on the issue previously, and that the board recommended changing the policy to remove the frank owner requirement.
Hettinger also added that “the term free owner is rooted in racism and sexism”.
The term was a topic of discourse in Livingston and nationally, originally the word referred to free men who owned land, who at the time were only white men.
During the commissioner’s comments, Commissioner Quentin Schwarz rebuffed expressed wishes for a different proposal, saying the commission did not have the power to push back state law, although he did not fully support the ordinance. proposed.
Planning Council member Nootz agreed with Hettinger, stressing the need for fair tenant representation, but noted that changing the outspoken landlord requirement would contradict state law. She added that passing the ordinance would imply that the commission approves all parts of the law, even those they don’t like.
Hoglund supported the hesitation of the other Commissioners in his comment, saying, “It’s like a band-aid to the problem, but not necessarily bad that we have a band-aid.”
Schwarz has deferred to state law, saying those who wish to change the language to remove the “freeholder” should lobby state lawmakers. All except Nootz voted for the ordinance to go to second reading.
Then, the committee unanimously adopted an action to give the Owl Lounge the necessary permissions to host a PBR afterparty.
All resolutions brilliantly passed for further consideration in public hearings at the July 20 meeting, including approval of the 2021 to 2022 budget, raising water and sewer system rates to 3 , 3% and 3.0% respectively, specifying the valuation option for street maintenance levy of about $ 1.3 million, estimating the cost of maintenance of lighting and electricity , and replacing street lights and other accessories in the city. There has been no public comment on any of them, and only positive comments from the Commissioners.
The final item discussed was a resolution authorizing Kardoes to commit funds to match American Rescue Plan Act grants. These commitments would make the city’s application more likely to be accepted under competitive grants. Kardoes was unanimously authorized to commit up to $ 500,000 in matching funds for the Minimum Allocation Grant and up to $ 2 million for the Competitive Grant program.
The commissioner’s final comments were mostly celebrations of recent accomplishments, with a discussion of a grand opening of the new city offices, a celebration to show appreciation for the work of city staff during the pandemic, and satisfaction from the city. application of the growth policy.
During his remarks, Commissioner Mel Friedman mentioned his daughter Laurie Bishop’s campaign to represent Montana in the United States House of Representatives.