Kent Barbian, a resident of Stonegate Meadows, came to the Hamilton City Council last week to express how disheartened he was by the actions of the Hamilton Zoning Board of Adjustment. Barbian and some neighbors are suing the Hamilton Zoning Board of Adjustment for granting a conditional use permit that would allow the Bitter Root Humane Association to build a new facility 100 feet closer to the property line separating the animal shelter from the residences. The Bitter Root Humane Association was included in the suit.
In the group’s amended complaint filed on December 10, 2019, they claimed that moving the building 100 feet closer to the property line would substantially increase the noise of barking dogs and its negative impact on the homeowners. The lawsuit held up work on the construction project.
Attorneys for the Bitter Root Humane Association answered the neighbors’ claims with some of their own. They asked the court to declare that their building plans complied with all the applicable laws and zoning regulations governing issuance of a conditional use permit and they want the homeowners to pay $43,996 in costs created by the delay in construction that was caused by the unfounded legal action taken against them. Those costs, they claim, will increase by $1,000 a day once the ground warms up allowing for construction to begin again.
The Zoning Board of Adjustment maintains that its decision to issue the conditional use permit last July followed the law. They claim that the permit contained provisions to address noise issues and that the City of Hamilton would enforce the permit. City attorneys also claim that the complaint was not notarized as required and was not submitted in the required time period.
Barbian told the City Council that he and the neighbors were arguing their case pro se but they were up against two attorneys working for the city and three working for the Humane Association. He said he was very disheartened that he was being accused by the attorneys of acting unethically and in bad faith, when he believes it is the zoning board and the Humane Association that are not working in good faith to resolve the issue. He asked the council for whatever help they could give.
The issue was not on the council’s agenda and the matter was not discussed any further. The lawsuit is still moving through the courts.
In other business:
Council member Claire Kemp was elected to serve as Council President for the coming year. Council member Rod Pogachar was elected to serve as Council representative on the Planning Board and Council member Kristi Bielski was elected to serve as Council representative on the Zoning Commission. Other members of the Zoning Commission appointed to one year terms were Vivian Yang, Corey Johnson and John Trangmoe. The Council also confirmed the regular employment status of Matthew Rohrbach as Planning Grants Administrator.
At its January 21, meeting the Council:
• confirmed the regular employment status of Officer Bryson Lewis
• approved a collective bargaining agreement with a four-year contract with the Hamilton Police Association
• approved a waiver allowing the BitterRodders Car Club to park cars on the grass at Heironymus Park for their Heroes and Hotrods Car Show and fundraiser May 25.
• approved on second reading an ordinance amendment that would change the designation of the property at 228 Marcus Street from Public Institutional to Local Business District.
• approved on second reading an ordinance amendment that would change the designation of the property at 202 S. 3rd Street from Public Institutional to Local Business District.
• approved an ordinance amendment abolishing the city application fee schedule.
• approved a resolution re-establishing the same fee schedule, but outside the subdivision regulations so that it could be updated without the process of holding a public hearing and two votes to change an ordinance.
• approved a motion to temporarily suspend collection of Annexation Application Fees and Zoning Application Fees for properties not currently located within City limits which are adjacent to and physically able to connect to both City water and wastewater services.
• approved writing a letter of support for the Bitterroot Backcountry Cyclists’ Recreational Trails Grant Application. The grant money would be used to expand the trail system at Lake Como.