By Michael Howell
Kellieann Morris, Noxious Weed Coordinator for the Ravalli County Weed District, made a pitch to the Hamilton City Council at its last Committee of the Whole meeting for developing a noxious weed plan for dealing with noxious weeds within the city limits.
Morris told the councilors that due to their aggressive growth and lack of natural enemies, noxious weeds can be highly destructive, competitive, or difficult to control. They not only reduce crop yields, destroy native plant communities and degrade wildlife habitat, they can also damage recreational sites, clog waterways, lower land values, and poison livestock.
Morris noted that state law prohibits landowners from letting noxious weeds grow and go to seed on their property. She noted that the City has a responsibility as a property owner of its park lands and other properties to ensure that any noxious weeds are under control. She said her job was to help landowners identify noxious weeds and, if present, help develop a plan for managing them.
“We do this for free,” said Morris.
She said that Stevensville and Darby have noxious weed management plans and she encouraged Hamilton to develop one as well. She said although the law prohibits having noxious weeds on your property and letting them go to seed, what it requires if any are found is a management plan.
“Once you adopt a management plan and as long as you are implementing the plan and working on the noxious weed problem, you are no longer in violation,” she said.
Morris said her job was to help people identify any noxious weeds and then come up with an appropriate plan designed specifically for the problem. She said each plant was susceptible to different forms of management and there were many ways to deal with noxious weeds including grazing, mowing, bio-controls, pulling, and planting of other species as well as application of herbicides. She urged the Council to consider working with her on doing an inventory and a management plan for the city.
The Council agreed to place it on the agenda for the next meeting.
Another matter that will move to the council is the request for a three-year extension of the final plat deadline for Phase III of the Paddocks Subdivision. Nancy Pendergast had asked the Council for a three-year extension of the March 31 deadline for filing the plat. The council hesitated to grant the extension based on some concerns about the interior road specifications and contemplated letting the deadline expire and forcing the developer to re-apply so the road design could be negotiated again. The council was told that, following a meeting between City officials and Pendergast and her representatives, an agreement had been reached to change the design of the interior road from a 20-foot-wide one-lane road with a parking lane to a 27-foot-wide road surface that would include two 11-foot lanes and a five-foot pedestrian/bike way.
Also moving to the council’s agenda are:
• an ordinance requiring property to be in the City as a condition of making any new connection to the city water system. Special Projects Director Dennis Stranger said that it has been a longtime policy of the city and was now simply being codified;
• a recommendation to raise the contract price for lease of the baseball fields from $500 per season to $750 per season;
• choosing a species of tree and which park to plant it in as part of the Arbor Day grant from the Arbor Day Foundation.