Business district vote scheduled for March

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The decision to create two controversial business districts in Libby will not go before city council until March at the earliest.

Mayor Brent Teske laid out the path forward during council’s Jan. 21 meeting. Supporters had hoped to see the districts approved by as early as Feb. 3.

The finalized schedule came after City Councilor Kristin Smith presented her colleagues with the newly created zoning commission’s recommendations for the plans. That body took up the much-debated proposal last week, making a few minor language changes to the documents during its inaugural meeting.

Smith said the commission, which she also sits on, was prepared to hold a public hearing as soon as Feb. 10. City council could follow with another public hearing and then hold a final vote on the measures, she said.

Teske rejected the proposal, saying that he favored a more drawn out approach that included separate meetings for reviewing the zoning commissions recommendations, holding a public hearing and then casting a final vote. Smith described that approach as “frivolous.”

Though the two agreed that the council’s legal counsel signed off on a speedier process, Teske said he wanted to sidestep avoidable lawsuits and remove the appearance that the body rushed the proposal through.

“There’s no urgency here … When all is said and done, I want it done correctly,” Teske said.

Under Teske’s plan, the zoning commission will hold a public hearing on the edited plans Feb. 10. City council would then accept the zoning commission-approved documents on Feb. 18 with a public hearing to follow.

The measures, which would see new development requirements along U.S. Highway 2 and in the downtown area anchored by California and Mineral avenues, would tentatively go before city council for a final vote on March 2.

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