Breaking News

Councilors appoint new firefighter, new volunteers for emergency services and library board member

By 
Kathleen Gilluly
Thursday, April 15, 2021
A resolution for a zone change for this property at 801 E. Main St. was approved at Tuesday evening’s council meeting. The building, which was Mabel’s Restaurant most recently and had formerly been Tubman’s Grocery, is being remodeled into three apartments.

A resolution for a zone change for this property at 801 E. Main St. was approved at Tuesday evening’s council meeting. The building, which was Mabel’s Restaurant most recently and had formerly been Tubman’s Grocery, is being remodeled into three apartments.

Considering the council packet for Tuesday’s regular business meeting was over 400 pages long, and three public hearings were held, councilors and Mayor Tom Nelson breezed through the agenda in under 40 minutes. Agenda items had been discussed previously at the workshop on April 6. Councilman Scot Stokes was absent.

The first public hearing was for an ordinance amending chapters of Title 14 of the Laurel Municipal Code relating to the adoption and enforcement of Building Codes as required by the State of Montana. Karen Courtney, Laurel’s code enforcement officer presented the item. There were no proponents or opponents.

The next hearing was on a resolution granting a variance from the city’s zoning ordinance to disregard the bufferyard requirement, sight-obscuring fence requirement and building design standards on property on E. Railroad St. The item was presented by City Planner Nick Altonaga.

He noted the property is undeveloped and doesn’t yet have an address, but the request by EEC Engineering on behalf of the property owner is similar to other variances granted.

“The planning board and zoning commission met on March 17th of this year to receive public comment and approve or deny the request,” Altonaga said. “On that date the planning board voted to approve the variances with the updated staff requests.” He said the variances requested meet the spirit of the code.

Chuck Hendrix with EEC spoke as a proponent of the variances. He said there would be landscaping and the building will fit in with other developments in the area. He added that the sight-obscuring fence requirement would limit the ability of the business to display and sell their merchandise.

There were no other proponents and no opponents.

The final public hearing related to property at 801 E. Main St., the former Mabel’s Restaurant, which is being renovated into three apartments. City Planner Altonaga told the council the zone change request would change the current designation from community commercial to central business district to allow for the owner to later develop the rest of the property to the north of where the building stands.

“It would open up further residential units to be developed on site and lessen the restrictions of setbacks and other lot coverage requirements,” Altonaga said. “The lot is directly next to the central business district so it’s a natural progression.” He said the planning board approved the zone change with the stated staff recommendations.

Janis Otis, a representative of Investment Property Finance, the owners of the property, was the sole proponent. She stated that the owner doesn’t currently have plans to further develop the property, but they would like to have that option in the future.

Under scheduled matters, the council voted unanimously to appoint Jake Worden to the the Laurel Volunteer Fire Dept.; appoint Russ Bunn, Andrew Zimmermann, Mariel Riley and Amanda Hemmen to the Laurel Volunteer Ambulance Service; and appointed Katie Fjelstad to the Library Board for the remainder of a five-year term ending June 30, 2023.

Councilors voted for a resolution to approve a new three-year agreement between the city and Local Union 303, AFSCME, covering the police department employees.

Councils approved resolutions authorizing the mayor to request a traffic study for a portion of W. Main St.; granting the variances for the property on E. Railroad St.; and approving the zone change for 801 E. Main St.

The mayor took a roll call vote for the ordinance amending chapters of the Laurel Municipal Code as required by the State of Montana. It was approved unanimously.

Council Vice President Bruce McGee requested a future discussion on having chickens in the city. The mayor said he thought the item could be on next week’s agenda.

In the meeting packet were a number of reports from boards and commissions including March reports from the Laurel Police Department, Volunteer Fire Department, Emergency Services and the Building Dept. The Outlook will have an article on the reports next week.

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Upcoming Events

Monday, May 10, 2021
Mondays, 1:30 p.m., 201 1/2 E Main St.
Monday, May 10, 2021
Second & fourth Monday at 11 a.m., Big Horn Resort, 1801 Majestic Lane, 281-8455
Monday, May 10, 2021
Free, 2nd Monday, 3-5 p.m., Frontier Cancer Center, 1315 Golden Valley Cir., Billings, 800-227-2345
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Wednesdays, 7 p.m., 201 1/2 E. Main St., Laurel
Thursday, May 13, 2021
2nd Thursday, 6 p.m., Council Chambers
Monday, May 17, 2021
Mondays, 1:30 p.m., 201 1/2 E Main St.

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