June 9, 2022
June 9, 2022
Commissioners Scott Miller, Scott Blain, and Bill Bullock; and Administrative Officer Angela Newell were present.
9:05 Pledge of Allegiance.
Denise Rivette, James McGregor, Tressa McGregor, Dan Horman, Mary Horman, Bob Mensik, Lee Stevens, Edwin Halland, Mary Cameron, and Steve Roi were in attendance
9:20 Building Maintenance Coordinator Mike Schilz met with Commissioners to request a temporary employee to back fill staff out on medical leave. Commissioners approved.
9:30 Red Lodge Mayor Kristen Cogswell met for her regular meeting. Discussed MDT Highway construction projects, will be discussing 4th of July Parade at the next council meeting. Discussion with Brian Hannah regarding Airport and the City’s building codes; Mayor will attend the Airport Board meeting at 1:00.
10:00 County Attorney Alex Nixon joined the meeting for his regular appointment. Discussed the construction project south of the Personal Services Building, Bullock and Schilz will be meeting with the new project owner to discuss a request to place excavated material on County property. There are also issues with buildings encroaching on county property. Bullock would like a bond or other assurance to make sure any damage to County property has recourse. Newell asked if Commissioners were interested in implementing a County Freedom of Information Act Policy; Nixon is happy to provide guidance, but agrees that dictating how record requests are managed by individual elected offices may be outside of the Commissioners’ authority. Nixon is happy to provide guidance if elected officials would like to adopt their own department specific policy. Discussed gravel crushing lease agreements; need to discuss status with Contract Deputy County Attorney Jacque Papez.
Miller moved to approve County employee hours as submitted for 5/22/22-6/02/22; Blain seconded; motion carried.
10:30 Matt Eaton, Shawn Stewart, and Mike Ruggles from Montana Fish Wildlife and parks met with Commissioners for an update for Region 5. There have been 23 bear contacts in the last year 85% of which were in Carbon County; 7 of the contacts involved livestock. Currently we are in the middle of grizzly breading season. Stewart noted last year was very productive for white bark pine and choke cherries and they are anticipating more cubs this year. Stewart noted an issue with a Bear in Fromberg that was instigated by bear having access to food sources, FWP plans to push out some education. Discussions about bear and other wildlife attractants and the bear proof garbage cans that have been provided in other communities; Chronic Wasting Disease monitoring; wolves there is one in the area at this time, but not much presences. Blain asked about status of Wildcat Fishing site; the Environmental Assessment is completed, funding is now secured, just waiting to finalize plans and receive approval from the director’s office.
Blain moved to approve the addendum to the Fromberg Interlocal Agreement for Cooperative Infrastructure Projects; Miller seconded; Bullock noted the cost to the County for the assistance is $9,176.82, Fromberg’s responsibility is $15,370.89; motion carried.
11:30 Bullock noted request to place recreational marijuana legalization back on the ballot. Denise Rivette, James McGregor, Tressa McGregor, Dan Horman, Mary Horman, Bob Mensik, Lee Stevens, Edwin Halland, Mary Cameron, and Steve Roi were present. Blain noted debate about merits of marijuana is not applicable to today’s discussion and requested attendees limit comments to why it should be placed back on ballot. Blain moved to place recreational marijuana back on ballot; Miller seconded; Blain noted he needs to be convinced to place issue back on the ballot County has already voted and based on results in Yellowstone County’s Primary Election and discussions with Commissioner Ostlund, Yellowstone will not entertain placing the issue on the ballot again; Blain noted he does not want it to go back and forth every couple of years. Bullock and Miller agreed they need compelling arguments to place it back on the ballot. Blain noted statutes provide clear cut petition process to go from red to green, but not green to red. At this time, it appears action of the Commissioners is necessary to place the issue on the ballot. Nixon concurred with Blain’s explanation of his interpretation of statute he did note the drafting deficiencies. Blain recounted Yellowstone County’s Primary Election stats; the 2020 primary had 7,000 more votes than the 2022 primary, but in the 2022 Primary Election there were 26,000 votes to keep recreational Marijuana with 29,000 voting republican and 13,000 voting democrat indicating the favor for recreational marijuana is not a one party issue. Blain would like a petition with at least 15% registered voters before he considers placing the issue back on the ballot. Bullock opened the topic for public comment.
Lee Stevens believes it is compelling to place the issue on the ballot because it is not partisan. Mary Connell believes the Yellowstone County numbers are skewed because the ballot language was confusing; she also noted they have already gathered hundreds of signatures. Discussion about the legalization being passed by 81 votes; it was noted that people voted in favor of decriminalizing, but do not want marijuana sales in historic down town Red Lodge. Discussion about Red Lodge City Council zoning that would not implement distance from Parks and concerns about marijuana on Broadway Avenue. Steve Roi and Dave MacAusland concurred with previous comments regarding Red Lodge City Council, believe has highlighted issues and concerns with legalization county wide. Denise Rivette stated this sounds like a City problem in search of a County solution.
Michael Keys noted he has spent 5 months with the City of Bridger discussing putting dispensary in town of Bridger. There has been virtual no one in attendance at those City Council meetings, and he has only had one negative comment. Has customers that have come in that have changed their mind regarding marijuana and are in favor of recreational sales so they don’t have to be on a medical users list. Keys noted his personal investment in the industry and believes recreational is better regulated and safer. Keys noted at the Red Lodge mayoral and city council debates there was a question about allowing marijuana in downtown businesses; candidates that won supported recreational marijuana in the City.
Sandy reviewed statistics for recreational vs medical sales noting the significant business on the recreational side.
Kris Keys noted those proposing to place back on ballot have little to lose; she does not believe a vote should be taken just because people don’t like it. Noted those that have invested in the business have a lot to lose.
Ed Halland noted he was caught unaware of changes in Bridger. Asked how law enforcement handles this stuff.
Stewart noted marijuana has helped her daughter with cancer but is concerned about possible traffic impacts from marijuana use and driving under the influence.
James McGreggor believes that legal, safe, and regulated access to marijuana will help reduce its association with other drugs. He asked that everyone to give the industry a chance and wait for the legislative session to see what changes the State will make.
Crystal Roascio noted that marijuana is legal in the State; making it illegal to sell in Carbon County will not reduce or eliminate use it will just push sales and tax revenue to Yellowstone County.
Bob Mensik echoed previous comments about not wanting it on Broadway Ave in Red Lodge.
Roi noted democratic process allows the issue to be revisited.
Sheri Mondragon Roberts, noted Dispensary in Roberts on Main St. and then addition of one in old y-stop. Believes people were blindsided and are now reacting.
Mike Keys noted it is unfortunate that Red Lodge City council did not follow Planning Board recommendation. Noted this is an issue for the City to revisit.
Blain noted he is not in favor of re-voting for something where he didn’t get his way. Noted the petition mechanism to go from a red county to a green county, so the issue could go back on ballot again if legalization was overturned.
Lee Stevens noted City council’s action to allow in historical Red Lodge, was too far. Concerned that people are apathetic and naive that issues that have happened in other states will not happen here.
Mike Keys noted recreational marijuana is similar to how many people use alcohol. Legalized cannabis pushes out illegal cannabis and the possibility of the illegal product being laced with addictive products. In his discussions with law enforcement, they have not seen additional issues. Keys also noted dispensary owners’ assistance with issue in Roberts.
Sandford Langoger noted Keys and McGregor’s were helpful with Roberts issue. Noted issue is with it being on main street in Red Lodge. Asked to allow a revote so the issue can be put to bed.
Mike Keys noted incorporated towns are the only place left to place new businesses because of County’s 1000’ setback. Noted his potential business location is not on main street and not near a church.
Dave MacAusland proposed investment in private detention facility would be a better business investment.
James McGreggor noted anecdotal evidence regarding pros and cons of marijuana use. Down town main street is not necessarily the best location for a dispensary, although free market should allow the location to have best business sense.
Sandy Conlee noted only would take 41 people to change their mind.
Mary Cameron noted her presence does not indicate support one way or another.
Kris Keys does not believe attendance at this and past meetings as being representative of the county as a whole.
Blain would like to see petition with 15% signatures. Would have liked City action and will not vote in favor until a petition is presented and verified. Roascio noted to have time to verify signatures with enough time for Commissioners to act for the November ballot, petitions must be received by July 8th for them to be verified. Roascio noted would need two to three weeks to verify signatures. Motion failed, all three opposed.
1:03 Airport Board Meeting called to order. Merrill Pfeifer, Gary Harem, Jeff Wise, Barbara Krizek, Red Lodge Mayor Kristen Cogswell, and Bo Ewald were present.
April 26, 2022 Airport Minutes Approved. (attached).
Miller moved to adjourn 2:55; Blain seconded; motion carried.
Respectfully submitted: Angela Newell, Administrative Officer