By Michael Howell
At a marathon meeting last week the Stevensville Town Council passed on first reading a slate of 18 new ordinances. According to Council member Ron Klaphake, most of the ordinances were simply to bring town codes in line with current state, national and even international codes, such as building, fire, plumbing, mechanical and fuel codes, and to include them in the appropriate sections of the Stevensville Municipal Code. The new ordinances were developed as part of the Town’s ongoing codification process in which all of the town’s ordinances and resolutions are being reviewed and updated if necessary. Most of the new ordinances do not involve any actual changes in town policy, procedures or regulations.
A few of the ordinances do contain significant changes. Ordinance 118, which contains the procedure for adopting ordinances, resolutions and technical codes, requires a public hearing for any new ordinance of any kind, as well as a public hearing for any new resolution that involves assessment of a fee.
Ordinance 131, which covers building permit requirements, now specifies a time limit of one year to complete the permitted work, with one 6-month extension possible.
Ordinance 135 establishes a Stevensville Traffic Code which includes all of Montana’s applicable traffic laws. Now traffic citations will include Stevensville’s code numbers.
Ordinance 136, which deals with all forms of littering, now prohibits leafleting of cars without the owners’ permission.
The first reading of Ordinance 133, the “Water Ordinance,” was postponed until the March 14 council meeting so that proposed changes could be firmed up. The Council is considering some changes regarding at what point along the water line the property owner becomes responsible for repair and maintenance.
A public hearing on the 19 ordinances is scheduled for Thursday, March 14 at 6 p.m.
In other business, the Town Council agreed to a contract for services with the Stevensville Main Street Association for economic development work including grant writing. The year-long contract was for $5,500. Mayor Gene Mim Mack noted that the work was obviously of benefit to the public and was accompanied by strict reporting requirements. The Council approved the contract on a 3 to 0 vote with Councilor Robin Holcomb abstaining.
The Council unanimously approved a change order for $9,900 for the unanticipated expense of extra screen to be used on the well project. The screen covers portions of the well casing to limit the amount of sand that might be drawn into the well.
The Council unanimously approved new business license requirements, with a $25 fee, but not before exempting the rental of one single family residence from the requirements. Councilor Ron Klaphake was keen on exempting all rentals but agreed to narrow the scope of the exemption under pressure from Councilor Desera Towle.
The Council also unanimously agreed to charging a $25 fee for any returned checks from Town customers. The Mayor noted that Utility Clerk Denise Philley had done an outstanding job in collecting on overdue utility bills. He said that only four residences had their water service discontinued for lack of payment and that three of those residents forked up the money immediately and paid the $50 fee for turning on the service once again.
A Special Event Permit was granted to American Legion Post #94 to hold its annual Easter Egg Hunt at Lewis and Clark Park.
In response to a request to waive the building and electrical fees for a volunteer soccer group to install a flag pole with a concrete base and lighting at the soccer field, the Council decided instead to pay the fees out of a fund established to make donations to non-profit entities.