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New subdivisions, city well and decay ordinance top council agenda

by TRACY SCOTT Valley Press
| September 13, 2023 12:00 AM

September’s Plains Town Council meeting convened Tuesday evening with a full agenda, covering items from new subdivisions to the controversial decay ordinance.

Ten citizens were in attendance.

Previous meeting minutes and reports were approved as written with Mayor Chris Allen reviewing the judge's report. The month of August saw 74 new cases with 92 pending, and 85 active warrants.

Allen spent much of the meeting reviewing his monthly report. Allen’s report started with the completion of this year’s section of the town sewer lines. This is a yearly preventative maintenance expense.

A ballot request to the citizens of Plains for additional funding for road repairs was rejected by three votes.

Allen discussed two new proposed subdivisions that are being finalized. The Clark Fork Subdivision, which will include a Dollar Store, near the Baldy Mountain Tire Shop, will require sewer and water line mains extended to the location. Approval is expected in the next few weeks.

The other subdivision, in the same area, is close to being approved.

After an eight-month wait, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), has approved a new water well for the town. This well will increase the number of wells to three in Plains. The new well will be pulling water from a much deeper aquifer with an estimated 4,700 gallons per minute. The town pumped close to 14 million gallons of water with 11.5 million being sold to residents. The 18% loss was attributed to leakage within the system.

The long-delayed sludge removal from the old sewer lagoons will be processed into fertilizer for area fields.

Mayor Allen and council member Garret Boon spoke about the upcoming Plains Beautification Day taking place on Sept. 16. For additional information call the town office at 406-826-3411 or go to their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/plainscleanup. Volunteer help is needed. Residents that need help cleaning up their own properties can request help by calling the town office.

Council members discussed updating the vehicle parking ordinance within town boundaries. The discussion revolved around issues with vehicles parking in alleys and other areas restricting delivery truck access. Council members voted to table the parking ordinance discussion until next month.

Council members next discussed the Arbor Day grant monies that are available to the town. Receiving the grant money of $850 per year requires the passing of an ordinance outlining where the trees are to be planted. Allen was in favor of putting in the required efforts to receive the grant. The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) has similar grants available that the town will look into.

Under new business, the council reviewed the proposed first reading of the decay ordinance amendment. Changes to the ordinance included a $250 fine for the violation. Violators of the decay ordinance could be issued a violation notification and given 30 days to clean up their property. If the property isn’t cleaned up, a fine could be issued. If the fine wasn’t paid by the property owner, it could be added to next year’s property taxes.

Council member Connie Foust felt that the fine should be set at $500. The council unanimously approved the first reading of the decay ordinance.

Council members also unanimously approved the fiscal year 23-24 town budget.

Two individuals spoke during the public comment section of the council meeting.

Area resident Dick Blizzard, spoke about finding a way to restore the remaining horse sculptures in the greenway along Montana 200. Blizzard said that they needed to be protected from the weather and the sprinklers watering the greenway. Mayor Allen said that maybe the public could be asked to help pay for the restoration of the two remaining horses. Volunteers and those that would like to donate money for the restoration can call Dick Blizzard at 406-274-0034.

Local resident Loren Hutnick commented that with the increasing of mask mandates around the country that the Plains town council should declare the town as mask free.

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Dick Blizzard discusses efforts to restore the horse sculptures along Montana 200 at the Plains Town Council meeting. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)