The Libby City Council voted to move discussion of proposed zoning changes back to the City Planning Board from the City Ordinance Committee during their Monday meeting.
Council member Peggy Williams said that her concern was to make sure that any updates that have been made in response to public comment to the ordinance committee not be lost.
Council member Gary Beach said that the current draft would be finished before the proposed zoning changes went back to the planning board, and no revisions would be lost.
Mayor Brent Teske said that the proposed zoning changes could be returned to the planning board prior to determining whether the board had been properly designated as a zoning commission.
“It’s not that we’re trying to backtrack the required comments and history and knowledge of it. We’re just trying to get it presented in the proper manner,” he said.
During the Monday meeting of the Libby City Council, Mayor Brent Teske made appointments to the Libby City Planning Board in order to correct a past oversite in which board members were improperly appointed by the council instead of the mayor.
Those board members that Teske ratified were Gary Neff and Mark Andreasen.
Libby resident D.C. Orr questioned whether board member Jennifer Nelson also needed to be similarly ratified.
Nelson is the Lincoln County representative on the board.
Teske said that he would confirm whether Nelson had been properly appointed to the board.
Teske also addressed previous objections raised to the legitimacy of the planning board, citing state law, Montana code Annotated 76-101.
Teske read from the minutes of the Lincoln County Commission from Nov. 2, 2005, which indicated the County Commission had been properly notified of the intent of the city to form a planning board.
Teske also presented the Dec. 5, 2005, minutes of the Libby City Council, which discussed the passage of an ordinance creating the City Planning Board in accordance with state law.
“They specified that they wanted to form their own board and resolve that through ordinance,” he said. “That answers the question about the planning board’s formation.”
Teske said that he was still working on “the zoning issue.”
In previous meetings, Orr has objected to the City Planning Board acting as a zoning commission. He has contended that the board is unable to act as a zoning commission since it is not a city-county planning board.
Orr raised that question again in the meeting while the council discussed whether to send zoning recommendations back to the City Planning Board from the City Ordinance Committee.
Teske cited MCA 76-2-307 in response to Orr’s objection.
Under MCA 76-2-307, the City Council has the authority to appoint a commission with no specifications regarding the number or nature of the members of that commission. Montana code does not specify any limitations on the membership of the board nor on the discretion of the council in who is appointed to the commission.
Teske said that he is currently looking into past council minutes to try to determine when and if a previous council designated the City Planning Board as the City Zoning Commission.
Letter of support
The Libby City Council heard from the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition at their Monday meeting.
Representatives of the group — which includes conservationists, loggers, motorized recreation enthusiasts and others interested in the future of the Kooteani National Forest — asked the council to give a letter of support to their efforts to help find solutions to forest management.
The council agreed to draft a letter of support.
Big Sky Lumber
At their regular meeting, the Libby City Council voted to abandon the section of Larch Street within the property boundaries of Big Sky Lumber.
The section of Larch Street had been a source of legal contention in the past regarding access for a separate property owner, but all the affected properties are now owned by one owner.
Though no street had been physically created on the property, the access road was included in a previous subdivision.
The current property owner of all properties the street would touch had requested that the council make the abandonment.
Council member Kristin Smith said that the matter was “pretty cut and dried,” since infrastructure was not put in.