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City OKs subdivision variance

| September 16, 2005 12:00 AM

By BRENT SHRUM Western News Reporter

The Libby City Council on Monday approved a variance that will allow a 61-lot subdivision on 19 acres off Hamann Avenue to be built with streets that are narrower than the city's standard.

The council gave Creek View Estates developer Jim Beasley the green light to go ahead with his proposal for 24-foot driving surfaces with two feet of curb on each side. City regulations call for a 40-foot width, but Beasley argued at a previous council meeting that the extra width is designed for on-street parking while the subdivision is designed for off-street parking.

Mayor Tony Berget suggested granting a variance but calling for a 30-foot street width. He said that would be consistent with another subdivision under consideration by the council, a five-lot medical development along Second Street proposed by St. John's Lutheran Hospital and given preliminary approval by the council later in the meeting.

The city needs to get a planning board on-line, but until then the council needs to handle subdivisions individually, said Councilman Stu Crismore.

"We're granting a variance to do this now," Crismore said. "It doesn't lock us into having to do this down the road."

Councilman Doug Roll noted that Flathead County accepts subdivision roads with 24-foot driving surfaces. If that is acceptable in Flathead County, with its rapid pace of development, it should work in Libby, Roll said.

The council approved the variance by a 6-0 vote.

In other business, the council:

* Approved a 2.7-percent cost-of-living allowance for all elected officials and city employees and set the property tax mill levy at the same level as last year. An increase in property values stemming from new development within the city means the same levy is expected to raise slightly more money this year, Berget said. The city does not anticipate having exact revenue figures from the state until sometime next month.

"Every year it's a guessing game," Berget said.

* Welcomed Colin Barnett as the city's newest police officer. Barnett, who served the past three years with the Troy Police Department, replaces Brent Teske, who recently resigned his position to take a United Nations-sponsored police job in Afghanistan.

The five-officer department has another vacancy to fill, created by the resignation of officer Matt White to take a job with the county sheriff's office, said Chief Clay Coker.