Ordinance will undergo changes

Interium ordinance addressing temporary housing concerns likely to look much different

 By Kay Braddock

It’s out with the old and in with the new. 
“Forget that ordinance,” Terry Town Attorney Rebecca Convery said as she answered questions during last week’s regular town meeting. “It’s going to be redrafted in some form and it’s probably not going to look very much like what it looked like two weeks ago.”
Referring to a proposed emergency ordinance that drew sharp criticisms from the majority gathered at a packed town hall late last month, Convery confirmed that the Terry Town Council still intends on addressing temporary housing concerns, but suggested the new interim ordinance may not prohibit construction of multi-unit housing as proposed earlier. Rather the new ordinance would tend to concerns of temporary housing such as recreational vehicles “popping up throughout the town”
“Do we want people living in campers all over town?” Convery asked. That will be one question she plans to pose to Zoning Commission member Charlie Deisher, as the wording for a new ordinance is drafted. “What is it that we are trying to prohibit?” Convery asked, suggesting that will be another question the council addresses.
“Clearly we missed the mark,” Convery said of the council’s previous proposed ordinance.
The emergency ordinance came about as the town tackles a zoning project that will create districts within Terry. The purpose of the ordinance was to prevent shabbily built structures from being placed before the town enacts zoning regulations, officials said at the October 27 meeting. 
Currently the 3-member zoning commission is working on creating districts within Terry that will include enacting regulations determining what kinds of construction can occur in areas throughout Terry. Districts under consideration include commercial, residential and agricultural. 
But before the zoning commission can complete its work a town growth policy must be in place. That’s where the 7-member Growth Planning Board comes into play.
But how long the process will take is anyone’s guess. It could be completed in 6 months or it could take longer, town officials said at last week’s meeting.
“The intent is to keep it as simple as possible, meet the statutory criteria and not prolong the process,” Convery said of the zoning project. 
In an attempt to gather more information as the town works to draft a new interim ordinance, town officials are reviewing ordinances already in use at Williston, N.D., where they say stringent ordinances are in place. Some include requiring oil field companies to purchase property where housing is placed, meet state building codes and prohibits the use of campers. Town officials are also planning a visit to Williston to meet with city officials there.
Convery indicted a new interim ordinance could be available for public viewing as early as the council’s December meeting. The proposed interim ordinance would undergo the same public hearing process, before being voted on. 
On a positive note, Convery said the state’s Department of Commerce is reaching out to eastern Montana communities in an effort to assist local authorities with zoning issues. The state could be used to offer technical and consulting advice.
Town officials confirmed that a town building inspector position will likely open as a result of the zoning project.
The Zoning Commission will meet tonight at Terry Town Hall at 7 p.m. The Growth Planning Board will follow at 8 p.m.

Published Nov. 16, 2011

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