A group of Ramsay residents appealed a recent decision by the Butte-Silver Bow Zoning Board in state district court in another attempt to block construction of a Love’s truck stop on I -90 next to their small community.
They filed the appeal Tuesday, the same day Butte District Judge Robert Whelan officially reinstated building permits authorizing work on the project. He had previously suspended most permits pending a decision from the zoning board on the matter.
This decision came on July 21 when the zoning board determined that the truck stop was permitted under Butte-Silver Bow zoning laws. The 5-0 vote backed an April 29 decision by county planning staff to issue final building permits for the sprawling resort.
Council members said they understood residents’ opposition to a truck stop, but council was acting in a quasi-judicial role and the only questions before it were whether zoning permitted development and whether staff acted appropriately and lawfully in issuing the permits.
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Council answered yes to both questions, although at least one council member, Tyler Shaffer, urged residents to appeal the case so they could “really get through their day in court”.
In their appeal filed Tuesday, residents again argue that the truck stop is not permitted under Ramsay’s zoning boundaries and provisions that were added to the Butte-Silver Bow ordinances in 1993. They also say the county relied on an outdated 1972 zoning scheme.
The call notes the July 21 Zoning Board discussion before members confirmed building permits. Each member expressed dissatisfaction with the development, but said “it was not the appropriate body to cancel the planning department,” the call said.
“Several board members (members) indicated they felt they were not qualified to make the decision and one noted that he ‘must trust our planning staff,'” the call reads. “Another board member (said) ‘we can’t go against the staff.’ At least one council member said that was a question best suited to the Court.
County officials argue that the 1972 zoning map, despite being in pencil, is the correct map and that a later map has been modified to reflect it. Under this and zoning provisions, according to the county, most of the Love complex is on unzoned land, and small portions that are within Ramsay zones are permitted there.
Oklahoma City-based Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores has 590 locations across the United States. This would include a convenience store, Arby’s restaurant, a casino, a tire store and spaces for 111 semi-finals.
Residents have fought Love’s on all government, regulatory and legal fronts, saying the truck stop will bring traffic, noise, pollution, passengers and crime to their quiet community of 40 homes and five blocks. houses. But they lost almost every battle.
After the Zoning Board’s decision, Love’s filed a motion asking Judge Whelan to lift the license suspensions so that construction work on the project could resume. A lawyer for Ramsay residents filed an initial response saying he did not oppose the request.
Whelan issued an order on Tuesday lifting the stays, saying, “Love’s may continue construction and related activities to obtain the permits without the need to post bond.”
The appeal filed Tuesday was initially assigned to District Judge Kurt Krueger. In it, the residents of Ramsay asked that all new construction be prohibited until the court decides on the appeal.
Every case is different, but in general, courts in Montana give great deference to the decisions of local zoning boards. Last week, District Court Judge Luke Berger upheld a Butte-Silver Bow Zoning Board ruling blocking a giant solar project that would have spanned parts of South Butte.