|By Danielle Nason
During the Libby City Council meeting held on Nov. 19, council members and the public discussed passing new city ordinances in the Business District. Many business owners were in attendance.
Libby City Council is currently looking to pass a new business district ordinance. The current ordinances in place are from 1987. The current draft presented at the latest meeting took three years to put together and it was a very hot topic of debate. The new ordinances, if passed, propose heavy fees for businesses remodeling and upgrading, being especially costly for new businesses (a window every 25 feet and paved parking with landscaping).
Brent Teske, Libby’s Mayor said, “This is a working document. There are a lot of concerns and a lot of questions. Those are the things that we will address as we find them.”
Businesses that are already there would be grandfathered in. They wouldn’t need to change anything. Only new businesses would have to adhere to the new ordinances if they’re approved. Or, if a business changes business types like from selling car parts to becoming a nail salon, said Libby City Councilperson Kristin Smith.
“The other issue would be as you upgrade (your business), then the recommendation is that the materials be from the recommended list. There is a list in the draft,” said Smith. A copy of the proposed draft can be picked up at Libby City Hall.
One very committed council member went business to business encouraging owners to come to the meeting and told them about the topics to be discussed. No less than ten business owners showed up including the owners of Libby Sport Center, The Dollar Store, Libby Art, and representatives of the VFW. None of the owners knew about the proposed zoning changes that were being voted on that evening.
“I Keep hearing that it won’t cost me anything. But if I want to update my building, I now have to make extra repairs and add paving, parking, hire inspectors, get landscaping etc., per the code,” said Ted Montgomery, owner of Camp Creek Coffee Roasters.
In the meeting there were questions raised about the committee’s transparency with the public. None of the businesses that showed up that night felt that they had been properly informed. Mayor Teske agreed adding that, “This was not brought forward properly. They are looking to rectify the situation immediately.”
After much debate and a lot of verbal gunfire, the City Council opted to put the District Ordinance Revision back to the drawing board for further review after. The topic will be brought to the public’s attention at a later date.
Flag on pole. Photo by Danielle Nason, The Montanian.