City Council to consider 'complete streets' policy

2011-08-21T19:30:00Z 2011-08-22T16:10:13Z City Council to consider 'complete streets' policyBy ED KEMMICK Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
August 21, 2011 7:30 pm  • 

The Billings City Council will be asked to pass a resolution adopting a "complete streets" policy when it meets Monday at 6:30 p.m. on the second floor of City Hall, 220 N. 27th St.

The council will act on a zone change, an application for special review and a resolution approving a 25-cents-a-month fee to be paid by Bresnan Communications subscribers to support Channel 7 operations.

The complete streets policy is being presented to the council by the Healthy by Design Advisory Committee, which was organized by the CEOs of Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare and RiverStone Health. The initiative is intended to encourage healthy activities, reduce traffic congestion and improve the safety and quality of life of Billings residents by providing more opportunities for pedestrians, bicyclists and public transportation users.

The policy would essentially guide the design and development of new streets and the upgrade of existing streets, encouraging where possible the addition of enhancements that would create a "multi-modal transportation system."

The council has already voted to approve an update to the existing Billings area trails plan that makes no mention of the complete streets policy. The language was removed because the Yellowstone County Commission, the city-county Planning Board and the regional office of the State Department of transportation were opposed to the policy.

Since then, opponents and supporters of the policy have been lobbying council members. Trails supporters were planning a rally and bike ride for Sunday to show support for the policy.

One of the main council players in the debate, Ed Ulledalen of Ward 4, had recommended possibly tabling the vote until the city could meet with transportation officials about possible consequences of passing the resolution. But Ulledalen will not be at Monday's meeting, for work-related reasons.

A public hearing will precede the council vote on the resolution.

There will also be a public hearing on the proposal to charge Bresnan subscribers 25 cents a month to support Channel 7, the local community-access TV station.

The Community 7 Television Board is asking the council to approve the "public education and government fee." The fee was authorized last year as part of an agreement by which the council approved the transfer of a non-exclusive franchise in Billings from Bresnan Broadband Holdings LLC to BBHI Holdings LLC after the two companies merged.

According to information provided to the council, "the transfer agreement requires the City to adopt a fee by a separate resolution on or after March 1, 2011. The charge may be passed through to subscribers as PEG fee at the cable company's option. If it is approved no later than Sept. 1, 2011, Bresnan is required to provide transport to support transmissions in multiple formats, including high definition, to and from both the City and the Yellowstone County Courthouse PEG playback/control center."

The zone change request deals with 13 acres at 4300 Montana Sapphire Drive. Montana Sapphire LCC is seeking a change from entryway light industrial to highway commercial zoning, saying the change would give it more flexibility in developing mixed uses or residential uses.

The special review request was made by Gerald Neumann, who wants to be allowed to build a drive-through window for a coffee or food kiosk in a new building at 3133 Central Ave.

The Zoning Commission voted 3-0 to recommend denying the application, saying the impacts on traffic could not be mitigated to the extent necessary to recommend approval. There will be public hearings on the zone change and the special review. 

Contact Ed Kemmick at ekemmick@billingsgazette.com or 657-1293.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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