Love’s truck stop in Ramsay parked with Zoning Board – for now | Local

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Residents of Ramsay had an eleventh-hour hearing before the Butte-Silver Bow Zoning Board Thursday night in their years-long quest to derail a Love’s truck stop next to their quiet little community off the I -90.

Lawyers for the residents, the county and Loves Travel & Country Stores made different points, but the council, acting in a quasi-judicial role, adjourned without rendering an immediate decision.

As judges often do after hearing oral arguments in contentious cases, council members will consider Thursday’s testimony and written information over the next few days before meeting and voting on the disputed zoning issues.

“I don’t feel comfortable myself, without considering the issues, the evidence and the arguments further, in making a decision tonight,” said Dave Wing, chairman of the seven-member council.

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The five other members present accepted, and although they did not choose a date to meet again, they have 40 days to decide the question. For now, board member Todd Collins said it was “clear as mud”.

Love’s began major earthworks on the site after the county issued final building permits on April 29, but by order of a judge two weeks ago, construction was halted and cannot resume until that the Zoning Board has not ruled on the appeal of the permits by the residents.

Among other things, residents argued Thursday night that the planned truck stop on I-90 is not permitted under zoning lines and provisions added to the Butte-Silver Bow ordinances in 1993, so the county should not have issued the permits.

They say the county sent the zoning map to a Ramsay Citizens Council in 2010 and 2017, but the county amended it in 2019 based on a pencil drawing made in 1972. The county does not only changed when Love’s came on the scene, they say.

But under either map, they say, either the whole truck stop or parts of it are not allowed in Ramsay areas.

Kim Wilson, an attorney representing the residents, said the zoning itself is “intended and designed to preserve the small town and rural character of the area.”

The county claims the 1972 drawing was the original map and although a later GIS map was filed, it inflated the boundaries on which Ramsay’s zoning provisions have always been based.

The county acknowledges that the erroneous 1993 map was discovered during the Love’s Project survey, but says the area has not been developed since.

“The zoning has not been changed,” said Sean Peterson, an assistant county attorney representing the Butte-Silver Bow Planning Department in the case. “The map was wrong from 1993 until now. It seems long, but we don’t periodically go through every Butte zoning map over the years, just to make sure we have the correct map on file.

Under the correct map, according to the county, most of the complex — including a convenience store, casino, fuel pumps, tire store and sewage lagoons — is on unzoned land. Underground storage tanks and tractor-trailer parking spaces that are in Ramsay areas are permitted in these areas, they say.

JR Casillas, a Montana attorney representing Love’s in the case, said Love’s agreed with the county and said he cooperated with local and county authorities and did things right. from the beginning.

Residents have fought Love’s on all governmental, regulatory and legal fronts since the Oklahoma City-based truck stop giant announced plans in 2017 to put a truck stop on a 10-acre site just a stone’s throw from the east of Ramsay. Residents say it will bring traffic, noise, pollution, transients and crime to their quiet community of 40 homes and five blocks.

Love’s says the truck stop will create jobs and business activity and provide truckers and motorists with 24-hour access to products in a clean and safe location. The company had 410 travel stops and stores across the United States in 2017 and now has more than 590.

County planning officials said Love’s met all regulatory and procedural requirements. On April 29, he therefore issued the final building permits. Love’s began major work a few days later.

Two weeks ago, District Judge Robert Whelan ordered a halt to construction pending a zoning board hearing. It was the only victory for the Residents so far and may only be a temporary victory.

If the zoning board rules against them, residents could appeal to the district court. But Montana courts generally give deference to local zoning boards.

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