Zoning board decision favors Love truck stop; Ramsay agrees to appeal | Montana News

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A county board ruled late Thursday that a planned Love’s truck stop on I-90 next to Ramsay was permitted under Butte-Silver Bow zoning laws, dealing another blow to residents who spent years fighting the project.

The Butte-Silver Bow Zoning Board voted 5-0 to support an April 29 decision by county planning staff to issue final building permits for a sprawling truck stop complex 7 miles west de Butte and a stone’s throw east of Ramsay.

Council members said they understood why residents of Ramsay objected to a truck stop next to their quiet, isolated community, but said they were acting in a quasi-judicial role and that the only issue posed to them was whether the zoning permitted development.

Member Tyler Shaffer said the planned truck stop was an example of global ‘proliferation of greed’ by big business and that he was ‘absolutely sick to his stomach’ whether it was in front of a volunteer board at Mound.

“Does anyone in this big city think we need a sprawling truck stop 10 miles from two other full-service truck stops?” Shaffer asked. “Are we looking to be the truck stop capital?

But he, like other council members, said the only question before them was whether the planning staff had acted appropriately and legally in issuing the permits and he was confident they did. had done.

Many residents attended the meeting in the courthouse’s council chamber and were visibly upset by the decision. One of them, just after the meeting was over, turned to the board members and shouted “Cowards!”






The Butte-Silver Bow Zoning Board is meeting on June 16, 2022 to discuss a proposed Love’s Truck Stop in Ramsay. The council met again on the matter on Thursday evening.




Residents have vowed to appeal the decision in state district court. This could be their last stand, however, and Montana courts generally give great deference to local zoning boards.

A lawyer and a representative of Love left the meeting soon after it ended. The company declined to return numerous emails and phone calls from The Montana Standard in recent months seeking comment.

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 governmental, regulatory and legal fronts, saying the truck stop will bring traffic, noise, pollution, transients and crime to their quiet community of 40 homes and five blocks. houses. But they lost almost every battle.

County planning officials said Love’s met all regulatory and procedural requirements. So they issued the final building permits on April 29, and Love’s began digging a few days later. A judge halted this temporarily when residents appealed to the zoning board.

Residents say the truck stop is not permitted under Ramsay zoning boundaries and provisions that were added to Butte-Silver Bow ordinances in 1993. The boundaries are shown on a zoning map that the county recognized for years until authorities changed it in 2019 based on a 1972 pencil drawing.

Residents say the county only changed it when Love’s came on the scene, but under either map all or part of the complex is not allowed.

The county says the 1972 pencil drawing was the original map, and a later GIS map inflated the boundaries. The county acknowledges that the erroneous map was discovered during the Love’s Project survey, but said the area had not been previously developed.

According to long-standing written descriptions and the correct map, according to the county, most of the complex is on unzoned land. Underground storage tanks and tractor-trailer parking spaces that are in Ramsay areas are permitted in these areas, they say.

Zoning board members said the question they were asked was technical: Was the truck stop permitted by zoning bylaws?

If the area was zoned and Love’s sought a waiver or special use permit, they noted, the council would take public input and residents’ concerns would be among the criteria they would consider. But it wasn’t before them.

Member Todd Collins said he liked Ramsay and that Love’s pursued the project for six years “because they have a lot of money”.

“If this comes to fruition, it will be another lost piece of America. It’s a very important piece for many of us,” Collins said.

But he said county officials were obligated to work with developers and follow the law, and they did so with due diligence.

Board chairman Dave Wing, a lawyer, agreed.

“I couldn’t find anything in the record and the zoning ordinances that would allow us to reverse the decision, no matter how badly we might want to,” Wing said. “We are still bound by law.”

Shaffer urged residents of Ramsay to appeal the ruling so they can “really get through their day in court”.

Jim Ayres, a longtime Ramsay resident who played a leading role in opposing the project, said they would “absolutely”.

“The problem with the planning department is that they took us out of the equation because they themselves determined that it (the truck stop) was suitable for this site,” Ayres said. “In most cases, with the existing zoning, they (Love’s) would have had to go through a waiver or special use permit.”

And that, he said, would have allowed residents to oppose the project on many grounds.







Luv's truck stop decision

Ramsay resident Holly Scherbel wipes tears from her eyes as she and her husband David listen to the zoning board on Thursday evening.




Ramsay resident Holly Scherbel interrupted the council’s discussion at one point, saying residents never had a chance to testify on the matter. She reiterated that to Standard after the meeting.

“We’d really like to be able to give our perspective and just show our voices, not in legalese, and just say, ‘These are people you affect with this decision,’ and put a face to it and say we matter” , said Scherbel.

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