Judge orders stop at Love’s truck stop near Ramsay – at least temporarily | Local

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A judge on Thursday ordered that construction on a Love’s truck stop near I-90 near Ramsay be halted until the Butte-Silver Bow zoning board accepts an appeal from residents of the small community to the west of Butte.

Technically, District Judge Robert Whelan cited a county order and told county officials to suspend the building permits they issued on April 29 that allowed construction to begin. But the end result for Love’s is the same, at least until a Zoning Board hearing in two weeks.

“In the meantime, the reading of the order would indicate that these permits are suspended and that they are so suspended, Love’s is not permitted to continue working on the site until the appeal is completed,” a said Whelan during a hearing in his Butte. courtroom.

Residents of the small community fought the project for years, but had lost every round until Thursday. About two dozen attended the hearing and cheered when Whelan delivered his decision, though it could only derail the project temporarily.

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“They told us not to clap but no one had to give us that advice because we had never won before,” said Ramsay resident Jim Ayres, who helped lead the opposition. at the truck stop.

The Montana Standard has reached out to the Oklahoma City-based truck stop giant for comment following the decision. He also left a phone message for the company for a previous story this week, but never heard back.

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores announced plans to locate a truck stop next to Ramsay in January 2017. It then had 410 locations across the United States and now has more than 530 in 41 states, including Missoula and Hardin in Montana.

Ramsay’s would include a large convenience store, Arby’s restaurant, casino, tire store and parking for at least 110 tractor-trailers.

Many Ramsay residents have opposed the project from the start, saying the truck stop will bring traffic, noise, pollution, passengers and crime to their quiet community of around 40 homes seven miles away. west of Butte.

Contractors on bulldozers and excavators began major earthworks at the site and brought in pipes and other materials just days after the county issued building permits.

County officials said Love’s met all permit requirements, but planning director Dylan Pipinich said they warned the company to start construction because residents promised to appeal to the zoning board.

“And when they appealed, we called them and… said, ‘It’s at your own risk. We’ll get you everything back (if you lose),” Pipinich told Standard.

The zoning board will likely hold a hearing on the appeal at its next regular meeting on June 16 or a few days before.

Residents of Ramsay were told two years ago that they could appeal permit decisions to the Zoning Board once they were issued, and although they did so within days, construction had already begun.

Residents, through attorneys, sought a stay of county permits and, when that was denied, asked the courts to intervene. Their motion asked Whelan to suspend the permits pending the Zoning Board’s hearing and decision.

Residents fear that if construction continues in the meantime, it will be more difficult from a practical point of view to stop the project.

The county argues that the permits were issued so that under their reading of an appeal order, there is no further process for county officials to stay.

Butte-Silver Bow County Assistant District Attorney Sean Peterson told Whelan that residents should have sought an injunction against Love’s to stop construction instead of asking the county to keep the permits. Love’s is the entity that took a risk by starting construction before an appeal was settled, he said.

Kim Wilson Jr., an attorney for the residents, argued the county could and should suspend permits under an order governing zoning board appeals.

Whelan agreed, saying residents filed a timely appeal and that work on the site should stop until the matter is reviewed by the zoning board.

“It’s super big,” Ayres said. “Finally, someone is actually listening to what we think is the legal side of this thing.”

Residents say Ramsay has had zoning laws on the books for decades that don’t allow a truck stop. They say Butte-Silver Bow changed zoning maps in 2019 based on a pencil drawing, but past maps show the entire complex falls under Ramsay’s zoning.

Because of this, they say, Love’s should be required to obtain a special use permit or some sort of waiver to locate there. They attempted to present this matter to the zoning board at a meeting in July 2020, but were told their appeal was premature.

They plan to present their case again at the next council hearing.

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