Economic development council addresses key issues

The Miles City Area Economic Development Council (MCAEDC) got input from Billings, Helena and Bozeman in addressing a variety of issues at last Thursday morning’s meeting.

Lew Vadheim gave an update on his visit to the Billings Community Growth Conversations in May.

The event was set up with four business leaders from Billings and was moderated by the editor of the Billings Gazette.

They spent around an hour and a half in a panel form.

“The take-home message, I think were that you establish the issue or establish a goal then try to develop a plan to meet that goal with open communication of all the groups concerned,” said Vadheim. “And finally find funding.”

According to Vadheim Billings had taken those ideas and put them into action.

“For example they had decided as a community to do something about the downtown homeless situation. They identified the people who were involved and set up a program of counseling,” said Vadheim.

The people identified were counseled on various offenses. They also had a point system.

“For instance, urinating in public was worth so many points and if you accumulated so many of these points you were sent to jail,” said Vadheim. “Every time you were arrested you were given a chance to go into rehab.

According to Vadheim over a year they had identified over 70 people. Of those about 40 percent of them had left town, about one third of them had gone to rehab and are no longer a problem.

While Vadheim didn’t think the homelessness model fit Miles City. The Miles City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Laney suggested that Miles City could replace the homelessness subject with suicide to help the community.

The committees also gave updates.

According to MCAEDC President Jackie Muri, the executive committee is working on four key things.

The first being updating the office after having a technology assessment done. This was done to identify gaps and how to make the office more efficient.

MCAEDC Executive Director Mike Coryell is currently determining the greatest values from the assessment.

“Right now for example we don’t have some important things like a firewall or back up processes of any kind in place,” said Muri. “The nice thing about having that assessment done we know where the opportunities exist to find some solutions. It’s an important step to get this addressed.”

The executive committee is also going over the strategic TIF District membership. In the last few meetings the involvement in the TIF District has been discussed as Coryell has been offered a liaison position to connect the TIF District and MCAEDC.

“There’s just potential of conflict of interest. We have an idea of how we will approach that and Mike is following up with that group,” said Muri.

Another item that has been talked about is the opportunity to possibly partner with MSU-Billings. They would play a facilitator role and assist MCAEDC with ‘leading or facilitating community wide collaboration with key partners.’

According to Muri MSU-B has a center that would be able to support the council. MCAEDC currently doesn’t know what this partnership would look like but is an interest for the council.

Lastly, the committee worked on editing the conflict of interest and confidentiality statements. The council finalized these documents.

According to Coryell the committee met with Miles Community College President Stacy Klippenstein looking for input on the upcoming year. They are hoping to work together on the upcoming leadership class.

The committee is in the beginning phase of advertising the the next round of leadership classes. They are beginning to look for applicants for the next leadership class.

“We hope to change a few things but we’ll build on the successes from the spring that we have,” said Coryell.

According to the development committee chair Vadheim they have since the last meeting met with the fire department twice.

The development committee has been working with Ron Nemec from Job Service to help the fire department identify key issues and create a plan.

“This last meeting Ron Nemec was asked to review the job description and other documents to offer suggestions,” said Vadheim.

Nemec made several suggestions to the fire department who is currently reviewing those.

According to Vadheim Capt. Mike Miller and Chief Gary Warren are reviewing the document. After the business plan is revised it would be sent to Human Resources, then to the city attorney and then finally to the City Council to be finalized.

“They have been very supportive and appreciative of Ron’s efforts,” said Vadheim. “Mike has also sent out a document that goes over different types of business plans.”

According to Vadheim most of the suggestions are language changes and updates.

“I don’t want it to sound like the fire department doesn’t have anything in place because that just isn’t true,” said Vadheim. “They’ve got several things in place. This is just an update and revisions.”

Vadheim is hopeful for a first draft to be ready soon.

Vadheim had good news to share with the council. The fire department recently filled two of their three vacant positions. They are hoping to be fully staffed soon.

The committee is slowly moving forward with the possible signage on the west and east ends of the interstate.

According to Vadheim members of the Department of Transportation (DOT) are looking into the signage.

“There was a lot of talk and discussion and as you can imagine the DOT has a book of signage regulations and ideas and things that they permit,” said Vadheim. “These are both federal and state regulations. So they are researching possibilities for the west end.”

The committee provided the DOT with several ideas of their own.

According to Vadheim they promised to get back to the committee in the next few weeks.

The communications committee is currently working on local development, website/social media content and communications calendar items.

Also at the meeting Chris Mehl of Headwaters Economics, who presented over a conference call, how Headwaters could help MCAEDC.

Headwaters Economics is located in Helena and Bozeman.

They help small rural cities who don’t have much staffing for economic development.

MCAEDC is focusing on the socioeconomic side that Headwaters Economics provides. Mehl was able to produce a profile of Custer County’s socioeconomic measures.

For example the profile says that from 1970 to 2014 the population decreased from 12,136 to 12,092. It also provides employment, personal income and other information.

When creating this profile you can also compare with other areas.

There is no meeting in July.

 

Economic Report for Montana 2016

Please click on the link below for report.

EconRpt2016web

April 2016 CCMC Flood Control Newsletter

Click on the link below to view the April 2016 CCMC Flood Control Newsletter

CCMC Partner Agency Newsletter FINAL 4-16

MILES CITY DOWNTOWN (TIFD) FAÇADE GRANT – OPEN APRIL 1, 2016

  The TIF District will be launching the MC Downtown Façade Grant April 1st.  We were looking for an affordable way we could thank – and help downtown business owners that have been so supportive throughout the process of establishing our new TIF District.  The storefronts on Main and the downtown side streets and along 7th Street are a visitor’s first impression – and we have some wonderful facades in Miles City.   They create a visually attractive and vibrant downtown ambiance that welcomes visitors and shoppers alike to downtown Miles City.  This is a great opportunity for business owners who want to spiff things up a little before BHS and the summer season gets underway! 

The Grant is made possible with funding from the Montana Main Street Program and the City; and allocates $12,000 for qualified projects while funds are available.   Applications will be reviewed in the order received and awards based on readiness for the proposed project to proceed.

The goal of the FIG program is to make revitalization efforts affordable by providing matching grant funds of up to $2000.  The TIFD Board reserves the right to consider grants in larger amounts based on the merits of the proposed project.  A 1:1 match is required, i.e., applicants must match the amount of the grant with an equal or greater investment. 

Eligible Applicants:  TIF District Business owners that own or lease their business location. 

Eligible projects include, but are not limited to: 

  1. Store signage (rehabilitating existing signage, including historic signage, ghost signage and historic neon signage) Removal of inappropriate or out-of- date signage
  2. Awnings – repair or installation of awnings of materials and design in keeping with the character of the District.
  3. Rehabilitation or compatible reconstruction of storefronts
  4. Removing non-historic elements from building facades, i.e. metal and vinyl siding and exterior slip covers (surfaces) such as wooden shingles.
  5. Exterior cleaning, painting and/or paint removal
  6. Masonry repair and repainting, removal of paint over original brick, restoration of original brick
  7. Repair and replacement of architectural details or materials
  8. Window repair or in certain cases replacement
  9. Restoration or replacement of deteriorated or hazardous sidewalks
  10. Improvements to back or side street customer entrances of buildings in certain circumstances. are

Application Procedures:

A copy of the Façade Improvement Grant Guidelines and an application form are attached here for your convenience, or

You may down load an application form and review the Façade Improvement Grant Policy and Procedure Manual at the City’s web-site:  http://milescity-mt.org/.  

You may also request an application and guidelines be sent to you by mail or email.

For More Information, contact:  Connie Muggli, Program Administrator at (406) 874-8616 or email:cmuggli@milescity-mt.org

Zoning regulations changes: County in charge of ‘doughnut’

Taken from Miles City Star
19th April 2016
by Amorette Allison

Zoning is a sometimes contentious and always complicated process, as the Custer County Commissioners know.

After a year and a half of effort, the state-mandated zoning regulations for the extraterritorial zone just outside of Miles City are final.

The state required the county to take over the extraterritorial zoning around Miles City after a growth policy and subdivision regulations were in place. The two-mile “doughnut” area around the city limits will be administered by the county as of Tuesday, April 12, when the final resolution was signed.

When the zoning regulations were first proposed last summer, the commissioners, Jason Strouf, Keith Holmlund and Chairman Kevin Krausz, broached county-wide zoning, with the majority of the county excluding the incorporated cities of Miles City and Ismay falling under agricultural. That zone would have broad definitions of permissible uses and was designed to exclude the so-called “man camps” that provide temporary housing.

However, after public hearings, it became clear that countywide zoning was not attainable, and the zoning area was restricted to just the two-mile doughnut.

There are fewer zones in the county regulations than in the city, with the zones designated AG-1 Agricultural; R-1 Residential; R-2 Residential Multi-Family; R-3 Residential and Modular Home; C-1 General Commercial; and I-1 Industrial. There are also P-1 Public and PUD Planned Unit Development District zones.

The uses for commercial and industrial zones are defined, as well as a large number of “conditional uses” that can be granted by the zoning commission through a permitting process. The General Commercial zone has more than 60 permitted uses plus a dozen more “conditional” uses. The Industrial Zone allows 27 permitted uses varying from aircraft maintenance, oil field services, and wind farms to laundromats. There are an additional 17 conditional uses.

Commissioners felt that establishing a board of adjustment and hiring a zoning administrator should not take place until after the resolution had passed. For the time being, the county commissioners will serve as the zoning commission, and a board of adjustments and zoning administrator will be set in place later.

Some concerns were raised at the hearing held in the commissioners’ office. Sam Malenovsky is a county property owner whose land falls within the area now administered by the county. She was concerned about “non-conforming” uses of property that are currently in place. Strouf assured her that “whatever is on the property is grandfathered in unless it is removed for one year continuously.” As long as the use is continuous, the use will be considered “legal non-conforming.”

Gary Ryder, local attorney, was concerned that “unless there is proper enforcement” of zoning regulations, “I don’t think there is a point in hit-and-miss zoning.”

Tara Dupey of the Montana Association of Counties attended the meeting via speaker phone. Dupey wrote the Resolution that the commissioners passed. She responded to concerns that there was not adequate public comment by stating that the review of the resolution “met and exceeded” state standards for public comment. Extensive public comments have been incorporated into the resolution itself.

There was some discussion of items that were not included in the current zoning regulations, such as a highway commercial zone along Exit 138 and some minor changes to one individual’s property classification. County Planner Bill Ellis explained some background on the highway commercial zone but, in the current regulations, it was not adopted.

The vote to adopt Resolution 2016-31 was unanimous and became effective immediately. Commissioners will now focus on creating the necessary supporting boards and consider future modifications to the regulations.
Copies of the resolution and the zoning regulations are available from the County.