Code enforcement

Code enforcement officer Todd Morgan tickets a trailer on N. 24th Street in this 2016 file photo. On Monday, the city's code enforcement supervisor, Nicole Cromwell, will update the Billings City Council on code enforcement efforts from July through September. 

CASEY PAGE, Gazette Staff

The city’s code enforcement officers are in the middle of one of the busiest nuisance enforcement seasons in their history.

The Billings City Council will learn more about that activity and what to expect in the coming months during Monday’s work session, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, 220 N. 27th St.

According to Nicole Cromwell, the city’s code enforcement supervisor, 2017 saw 1,918 weed complaints, the most since 2010. Nearly 98 percent of property owners complied with the department’s notice to abate their problem, but 46 locations — about 2.4 percent — did not.

The nuisance weed season runs from May 1 through Sept. 30.

The 2016-17 fiscal year, which ended June 30, saw the most sign complaints ever — 798 of them, more than the two previous years combined. About one-third of the complaints involved signs posted in public rights-of-way. Those signs are routinely removed and destroyed.

Cromwell said staff noted a reduction in parked RV and trailer complaints after code enforcement staff began issuing parking tickets for illegal practices including parking too close to fire hydrants or in a yellow zone, blocking an alley or driveway or leaving a trailer unattached. The only exception to that rule is for construction and maintenance projects and what Cromwell called “expeditious loading or unloading.”

Cromwell also plans updates on the current leaf and upcoming snow season as well as on the seven public nuisance cases remaining to be settled in Municipal Court.

TIF district updates

The Billings Industrial Revitalization District reports it is working with the city’s Public Works Department to get the East Billings Urban Renewal District’s 2018 lights and street projects ready by next spring’s construction season. That project will bring nine blocks of subpar streets up to standard and install 193 streetlights throughout the district.

The South Billings Urban Renewal Association plans to update the council on projects planned for Midland Road and Hallowell Lane as well as progress being made on the Yellowstone County sports feasibility study and a market study regarding the Radisson Hotel & Convention Center.

The Downtown Billings Partnership has at least five projects in the pipeline, including the proposed One Big Sky Center. Since 1999, the partnership has facilitated 335 projects in which $66 million in tax increment finance funds have been invested. That $66 million has leveraged more than $234 million in private and other non-TIF investment, bringing the total urban renewal investment to more than $300 million during the past 18 years.

Council initiatives

Every quarter, city staff updates the council on how they’re progressing with council initiatives. Five are complete, while 10 are in progress. Another three are in the early stages of being addressed.

Among that last group: Council Member Ryan Sullivan’s initiative to direct staff to research a special-use permit to allow existing potbellied pigs to remain in the city limits. Staff has met over that initiative and is concluding research on the matter.

City administrator search

At 3 p.m., a council subcommittee dealing with the city administrator search will meet in the City Hall conference room. The meeting, open to the public, includes these agenda items:

  • A discussion on open meeting law requirements and the timing of interviews
  • The public's opportunities to meet the finalists
  • Staff and media time with the finalists
  • How labor groups will be involved in the selection process
  • A public comment period.

The entire council will take up the topic once Monday's work session begins.

The council is also scheduled to hear an update on proposed changes to the city's noise ordinance.

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City Government Reporter

City reporter for The Billings Gazette.