Mayor raises concerns about fish pond impacts

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Mayor Don Barnhart wants the city to take a closer look at a proposed fish pond for Riverís Edge Park. He brought up his concerns at the April 2 city council meeting.

Barnhart has several concerns, including the engineering of the pond, the actual digging of the pond and the gravel hauling operation.

Barnhart, who runs an excavation company, noted the pondís 20-foot depth was a concern, because at that depth, the hole will fill full of water. He noted that gravel operations across the county use a drag line to make a hole that deep and big and he openly wondered about impacts to the park itself. He also had concerns about the truck traffic, which could have an impact on city streets to and from the pond. The fill, as it stands now, would be hauled off-site to the industrial park off Railroad Street.

City manager Susan Nicosia said the engineering would be done by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks at no cost to the city ó theyíve done fish ponds in other locales across the state in the past. FWP would also stock the pond with fish at no cost.

The city has received a $100,000 grant from the LOR Foundation that it will look to cover excavation expenses. Nicosia has said in the past that SmartLam, which makes wooden platforms for oil rigs, has indicated an interest in the project. The pads could be used to protect the Park from heavy truck traffic.

The city hopes to start the pond project this fall, when the water table is lower and use of the Park is less.

In other business:

• The council formally expired five old planned unit development overlays for subdivisions that were proposed, but never built on the edges of the city.

• The council adopted tweaks to the city zoning regulations on subdivisions. The changes come after a case in Ravalli County, known as the Legacy Ranch decision, which was a large subdivision that was planned for a 20-year build out, but never looked at the impacts of the subdivision as a whole, it only looked at the immediate building. Under the new regulations, the city will have a public hearing prior to a subdivision is being granted a second or subsequent extension. It also extends preliminary plats from two years to three years and caps the total life of a preliminary plat at 10 years. Previously it was three years. It also requires that each phase must be filed in two years, or the preliminary plat will be voided unless an extension is granted. If itís a planned unit development overlay, the timeline associated with the overlay must be followed.

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