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Be prepared

| August 19, 2005 12:00 AM

The Libby City Council is in an enviable position but they seem to appear as if in pain.

First, a developer is proposing to add a substantial chunk of change to the city's tax base, as well as to the new water and sewer hook-up fee fund passed earlier this summer, and the council is unsure of not only what they can and can not do but how they should proceed.

This is not a new issue. It's been before the council for three consecutive meetings and they should have done the homework, or had a staff member do the legwork, on how this process moves forward.

They should also know how wide city streets are. A 24-foot right-of-way, even with off-street parking, is not going be adequate in a high density subdivision. Most households have two vehicles, if not more. If you park two vehicles in the required driveways, third and fourth vehicles will easily choke down the drivable width of a 24-foot street to eight feet. Not much room, especially for emergency vehicles and delivery trucks. Not unless each street is a one way and the proposed cul-de-sacs are somehow connected.

The city council members should have already considered this individually, or at least in discussions with city public works supervisor Dan Thede who volunteered at the last meeting that city streets are 40 feet wide.

The council needs to remember that they have considerable control here since the developer needs city water and sewer to make this subdivision work. They should have already put together a list of things they believe are needed, or the city code requires, of this developer.

Second, when a developer comes before the council he or she is looking for answers not more questions. It doesn't bode well or send a welcoming message to future developers when the council doesn't know how to proceed. Time is crucial with construction at this latitude: You can't depend on being able to work through the winter.

Finally, the council would fumble a little less if they had an attorney sitting at the table with them to advise them on what city laws and procedures require of them and the developers. And an attorney might keep them out of trouble with potential conflicts of interest since the mayor and the council either don't understand or don't care. Sooner or later, such conflicts are going to prove costly to a city that says it doesn't have any money. — Roger Morris