Ennis approves E. Main Street project

With lot line condition, permit moves forward

ENNIS—The Ennis town commission began their February meeting with a special agenda designated specifically for ongoing deliberations regarding a new project at the east end of Main Street, near Lions Park. 

The developments, initially proposed by Michael Casey, were discussed by city judge Art Behar, who had reviewed the proposed plans. The project is proposed to involve an addition to one of the buildings on East Main Street that will be transitioned into a steakhouse, as well as the transformation of another building into a breakfast and coffee space. There are also plans to build a small bathhouse for guests of the Riverside RV Park.

It was also initially proposed to expand part of the park, but the question of additional RV spots was removed from the current proposal for consideration by the county planning board so that the rest of the project could be reviewed by the commission. 

“I don’t know if you need to start encumbering every neighborhood project to the planning board,” Behar told the commissioners. “That adds 1-2 months to the process. What’s being done is not that complex. I don’t think we should hold up these other permits just to wait for the planning board.”

Some elements of the project are already prepared, such as the renovation of an abandoned church building already on the property. There has been the question of a lot line that is currently built over by about a foot, and whether Casey should be required to have the line adjusted as part of the project. 

The commission decided that an adjustment wasn’t immediately necessary, but that it would be a condition of the project permit that Casey would have to have the adjustment done if he ever decided to sell one or both of the lots abutting the line. 

With that stipulation, the project proposal—apart from the RV park section, which the planning board will review before the commission sees it again—was unanimously approved by the town council.

After the conclusion of the special meeting, the commission moved on to regular business, which including appointing commissioner Cory Hardy as the new chairman of the tree board, which has been without a leader for a few months. 

Behar was also preemptively reappointed to his current post as city judge, a position that would have expired at the end of the year. Behar’s newly renewed term will run through 2023.

Mayor Blake Leavitt brought a resolution to the council changing the town’s budget for fiscal year 2018-2019. 

The resolution would reallocate some funds into the town’s water, sewer and ambulance funds, as well as designating some dollars for the planned master plan for Comley Park. Leavitt said around $4,800 would be moved into the ambulance fund, around $1,200 to the information technology fund and $16,700 for public works, which just added a new employee to, as Leavitt said, “be proactive instead of retroactive on future problems,” such as snow removal and sewer work.

Leavitt noted to the commission that all the money being moved around was already within the town’s budget. The resolution, which would only be moving money from one designation to another, was unanimously approved by the commissioners.

In regard to the Comley Park master plan, Leavitt said the company assisting on the project would like to make a presentation to the commission, which should happen at one of the upcoming commission meetings.

The meeting ended with reports from various departments, including public works. Director Kelly Elser noted that his team had been working hard on snow removal in and around Ennis, receiving commendations and appreciation for the prompt and thorough job the snowplows were doing. Elser also said the public works department was in the process of applying for a new wastewater permit, which must be renewed every three years as a standard practice.

Leavitt wrapped things up by telling the council that the newly reviewed zoning regulations should be ready for re-release in March. The commission and city government have been reviewing and updating the regulations for several months and the process is nearly finished.

“Hopefully everyone is as happy as I am with it,” Leavitt said.

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The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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