May 12, 2022
May 12, 2022
Commissioners Scott Blain and Bill Bullock; and Administrative Officer Angela Newell were present.
8:30 Pledge of Allegiance.
Fair Groundskeeper Mike Schilz met with Commissioners regarding a purchase request for Fair Washer and Drier; it was approved.
Clerk and Recorder Christine Stovall met with Commissioners regarding increasing Accounts Payable Clerk Piney Helmuth’s wage at the conclusion of her probationary period. Blain moved to increase Helmuth’s wage to Clerk 5 effective at the end of her probationary period; Bullock seconded; motion carried.
Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Cyrina Allen met with Commissioners regarding State Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. Counties can opt into the larger plan and would have their own individual appendix. Would require local appendix be updated annually. State will pay for the cost, but does require DES participation in all meetings. Bullock moved to opt in to the State Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan; Blain seconded; Allen noted she will discuss process with municipalities; motion carried.
Commissioners discussed the City of Red Lodge’s meeting revising zoning regulations related to marijuana businesses; the City is considering allowing businesses in town.
9:25 Blain moved to approve Commissioners’ Proceedings for April 19, 2022; Bullock seconded; motion carried.
10:00 County Attorney Alex Nixon met with Commissioners for his regular update. Discussed yesterday’s site visit to Edgar Acres; Blain noted it was a productive day and violations are not as egregious as they may look from the road. Commissioners discussed the draft On-call Architect Services Agreement with the ARETE group; Nixon noted the AIA template agreement is architect friendly but did not have any specific concerns. Deputy County Attorney Robert Spoja joined the meeting. Discussion about Canyon Ranches subdivision item at 10:30; existing owners were told by realtor that nothing would ever happen with the 80 acres in question. Nixon detailed history of lawsuits and the County’s involvement. Nixon noted the requirement of subdivision review and concerns about limited ingress and egress; there was a discussion about the possibility of another point of access via Grizzly Peak roads, but most do not have a 60’ easement.
May 12, 2022 (cont.)
10:30 Canyon Ranches Estates Subdivision Amended Plat. Contract Planner Forrest Mandeville, County Attorney Alex Nixon, Deputy County Attorney Robert Spoja, Deputy Clerk and Recorder Macque Bohleen, Interstate Engineering Brent Moore, and Attorney Ray Kuntz, were present. Mandeville reviewed the staff report (attached). Blain having reviewed and considered the application materials, project memorandum, public comments, Planning Board Recommendation, and all of the information presented, moved to approve of the Amended Plat of Lot 26, Canyon Ranches Estates Subdivision, with the findings and conditions included in the project memorandum; Bullock seconded. Blain asked about the deed restriction process to limit future division without additional access points. Mandeville noted in a major subdivision two points of access are required, but this is a subsequent minor subdivision and would not require an additional access point per Subdivision Regulations. Regulations put weight on local fire district opinion which desires an additional access point. Mandeville reviewed Planning Board’s discussion regarding the complications of obtaining a second access; Planning Board settled for a restriction on the deed to que the County and future buyers that a second access would be required for subsequent subdivisions. Blain agreed there is not a logical access point. Discussion about connecting via what appears to be a road adjacent to Willow creek; Mandeville noted cul-de-sacs do not connect to property line and would require additional easements. Blain asked about trail coming in from the west from Palisades Campground road. Moore noted owners acknowledge that subsequent subdivisions would necessitate second access, but believe improvements to existing access would mitigate fire concerns. Bullock asked about conversations with Grizzly Peak HOA. Moore noted there have been discussions regarding the Fire District’s interest in second access for the Grizzly Peak Subdivision. Owners recognized need, but would not like to see development in their backyard to provide that access. Discussion about utilizing Kinnick (sp) trail to provide that access for future subdivision. Nixon asked about easement in Grizzly Peak and required 60 ft; Moore agreed that the easement would need to meet the larger width and a future conversation regarding further subdivision and the need to come to agreement on a plan before any further subdivision is proposed. In conversations with realtors, land owners may be more agreeable to second access for safety concerns. Blain asked if intent of Condition 10 could be modified to a notation on the plat rather than a formal deed restriction so it is less onerous on land owners. 11:00 Miller joined meeting.
Blain moved to alter his motion to amend Condition 10 to require a notation on the final plat that restricts further subdivision of Lots 1 and 2 of the amended Plat of Lot 26 unless a second point of ingress and egress is provided; Miller seconded; Kuntz discussed the process of enforcing a deed restriction or covenant that is above and beyond the regulations. Blain noted concerns with a deed restriction being missed in disclosure vs a notation on the plat. Bullock noted history of placing notation on plat for ingress/egress issues; want it to be more up front with the restriction. Discussion about using same language as was provided in the Windmill Farms Subdivision Final Plat. Mandeville and Nixon agreed it may be important to specify ingress/egress issues in the language of the notation. Mandeville suggested language noting the subdivision is a high fire area and the subdivision has a single point of ingress/egress. Blain moved to include the high fire language in his proposed amendment to Condition 10; seconded. No further discussion. Amendment to original motion carried. No further discussion or Public Comment regarding the preliminary plat approval; motion carried.
11:15 City of Red Lodge Planner Courtney Long and Tom ** of the Carbon County Resource Council met with Commissioners to discuss the Commercial Property Asset Capital Enhancements (CPACE) program. The State program is a financial tool to fund energy efficiency renovations on commercial properties using a property tax assessment (tax lien) to pay back the financing. The program is administered through the State via the MT Facility Finance Authority; but individual Counties need to opt into the program for businesses to be eligible. The State will require energy cost savings to pay for the upgrades over the life of upgrades. The County would need to adopt a Resolution of Intent to join the program and hold subsequent Public Hearings before businesses would be able to participate. Commissioners expressed concerns regarding why other neighboring states have not implemented the program. Miller asked about delinquent taxes and what the process would be to collect the taxes; the property would likely be subject to tax deed if the assessment was not paid. Miller does not believe County should be a conduit for financing. Discussion regarding administrative burden of managing contracts with real property owners under 90-4-1307 MCA. Long noted City of Red Lodge and the Red Lodge Business association support the program.
11:50 Ed Halland, Chip Bennett, and Lisa Bennett met with Commissioners regarding May 24th meeting on election integrity. It was requested that the time on the agenda be extend time allotted and that the meeting be moved to the Elks to accommodate a larger crowd. Bennet presented charts evaluating votes for republicans and democrats (not including 3rd party candidates). Bennet stated the voting trends and population changes do not add up in regards to the percent of the population that voted and the number of new voters in 2020 over 2016. She noted she was surprised the County does not verify citizenship when registering someone to vote; Bennet also accused a foreign exchange student of illegally voting in 2020, but was unable to provide details.
Bennett is concerned that if there was even 1% of non-eligible voters voting in 2020 they could have passed marijuana legalization. Blain noted the 2020 Census numbers do not make sense. Bennet noted typically there is only 66% voter turn-out. Bullock noted twos members (2/5th) of his road crew who had never voted in their lives registered and voted in 2020 because of the stake of the issues and races on the ballot; Bullock noted in his observations at the polling place it appeared that there was a significant voter turn out because of specifically the marijuana issue. Bullock departed.
Miller emphasized his interest in open and free elections and asked what the groups objective was. Bennet expects significant number of attendees on the 24th; she believes a significant number of people believe there were issues with the 2020 election; ultimately they want to get rid ballot tabulation machines. They have a cyber expert that will be presenting and expect 40+ people at the meeting. Blain asked why the presentation needed to be in Commissioners meeting; noting he would hate to tie up an entire regular commissioner meeting for a community presentation, sees the presentation as more appropriate for an evening community meeting. Blain and Miller noted the issue would be better served if the presentations could be done in the evening when concerned citizen would be more able to attend. Blain noted that the election issues that they may agree on are issues that need to be addressed by the legislature in Montana law. Discussion about incentive for fraud from both parties. Blain noted issues with registrations are not solved by hand counting. Cook recommended the machines’ hard drives be removed and stored and new hard drives be installed for the June primary.
Respectfully submitted: Angela Newell, Administrative Officer