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By Eliza McLaughlin
Three Forks Voice 

City Council approves zoning changes

 


The Three Forks City Council unanimously passed three changes to local zoning ordinances which will allow conditional use permits for adult-use marijuana dispensaries and work-live structures, during its May 10 meeting. The council also held a public hearing on the decision to issue a conditional use permit for a home business for facials and massages.

After more than a month of discussion on the matter, adult-use marijuana dispensaries can now apply for a conditional use permit in any district, except those zoned for agricultural use. The city will not grant licenses to marijuana businesses within “the distance allowed under Title 16, Chapter 12, MCA from any private or public school, or any church or public place of religious worship, or any park owned or operated by the City, within the municipal boundary or extraterritorial zoning boundary,” according to the ordinance adopted on May 10th.

Title 16, Chapter 12 of the Montana Code Annotated lists a minimum distance of 500 feet, measured in a straight line from the business’ entrance to the entrance of any church or school located on the same street. The Three Forks City Council did not specify an exact number in the ordinance change to avoid revisions if the state chooses to alter the minimum distance, according to prior council discussions.

Adding work-live as a conditional use for Three Forks’ neighborhood highway business district, began in early 2022 with the first public hearing held on Feb. 17. Work-live developments allows business owners to live in the structure where they work; however, residential use of the structure must remain less than 50% of the structure. This new zoning change will not allow condominiums. Additionally, the entire structure must be owned by the same person.

No members of the public commented on either of the above zoning changes. Both ordinances will become law on June 9, 2022.

Nathan and Meghan Hay submitted an application to the city council seeking permission to turn their garage into a home occupation spa for facials and messages on Feb. 27. The couple hopes to provide these services on an appointment only basis out of their garage located at 1 N 4th Ave East. Upon approval of the city council, the applicants would remodel part of the garage.

Aside from the applicant’s clarification of council questions, the only public comment made on this matter was submitted prior to the meeting. These comments focused on the limited availability of parking in the area and the potential for clients to exacerbate the problem. The Hay’s application explains that they have access to four parking spaces: one in the garage, two between the garage and the alley, and another parallel to the garage. The staff report states that the applicants have enough off-street parking and “it would not appear that the studio would adversely affect nearby properties.” During discussion, Nathan Hay told the council he may use the garage parking space for storage; however, residential zoning requires two spaces for the residents and two for the home occupation.

The public comment also asked the city council to ensure that the home occupation met standards set by the Montana Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists. One council member told the couple that it was the applicant’s job to ensure that their business meets the guidelines set by these organizations, not the council’s.

Conditions set for the home occupation permit limits employees to only residences of the home, prevents appointments from starting after 6 p.m., and allows for signs no larger than two square feet.

The council unanimously approved the application and told Meghan Hay “good luck” before moving on to the next agenda item.

 

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