Cougar Ridge Development dispute settled, in-city chickens approved
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POLSON — The Polson City Commission settled a long-simmering dispute with Cougar Ridge Development during its regular meeting Monday, April 19, giving City Manager Ed Meece the go-ahead to sign an agreement authorizing the construction of a new wastewater gravity line and lift station that will serve the development on Polson Hill.
The city has been negotiating with Cougar Ridge since 2019 when it became apparent that the existing lift station can only sustain development east of the highway but won’t adequately provide for business and residential growth on the west side.
In an analysis completed last November, HDR Engineering reported “in order to maintain effective wastewater collection for this area, and potential new development, the city needs to reduce the amount of flow being handled by the Walmart lift station.” That station is located near U.S. Highway 35, in the parking lot that serves St. Luke Southshore Clinic.
An earlier memorandum of understanding with Cougar Ridge, which outlined the process for building and financing a lift station, was mired in disputes and never evolved into the requisite formal agreement.
This winter, the city attorney notified Cougar Ridge developer Mike Maddy that without a second agreement in place, the city would cease participating in the original memorandum, effective Oct. 1 – which would effectively deprive the development of access to the Walmart lift station.
More negotiations ensued, and the city received a signed agreement from Maddy on April 6. After much discussion, a majority of commissioners authorized Meece to sign this latest agreement, which establishes a public-private partnership for construction of the new lift station and gravity line, outlines cost sharing and project management responsibilities, and institutes a timeline.
Under the agreement, Cougar Ridge has until Oct. 1 to submit plans and receive approval for the project from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and an additional two years, through Oct. 1, 2023, to complete the new lift station in order to qualify for reimbursement from the city of up to $400,000.
In other sewer-related business, the commission approved the issuance of $1,550,000 in revenue bonds to replace sewer mains and sewer lines in three separate areas of town. The city will contribute $479,000 from its sewer fund, and the remainder of the $2,154,000 tab will be financed from the state’s revolving loan fund.
At the completion of the project this fall, $212,500 of the loan will be forgiven by the state and the city will repay the remainder over the next 20 years. Western Municipal Construction began working on the project in early April with completion slated for mid October.
In other business:
Commissioners approved an ordinance allowing residents to keep up to six domestic chickens, provided the owners have their coops inspected, receive a chicken permit and don’t keep roosters over three months old. Aspiring chicken owners must maintain a clean, predator-proof coop, prevent “noxious odors” and “noise of a loud, persistent and habitual nature,” and keep their birds healthy, well fed and watered. Chickens may not roam off the owner’s property, and must be confined in their coops from sunset to sunrise. “Absolutely no ‘extension cord wiring’ will be permitted.”
The new ordinance was hatched after several community members asked about keeping chickens. Under the city’s Animals at Large ordinance, all domestic fowl and livestock are prohibited within the city limits (although horses, mules and burros may be ridden on streets and alleys and during parades). The commission unanimously approved the new regulation.
Also gaining unanimous support was a resolution allowing the city manager to sign an agreement with Dreamland Skateparks to complete the first phase of an expansion to the Polson Skate Park. Construction on the 6,300-square-foot addition, which begins in June, will cost $150,000 and adds features designed for novice skateboarders.
In a separate statement, Polson Mayor Paul Briney endorsed the project, noting that the park “seems to be a victim of its own success.” The existing 12,000-square-foot park, built in 2005, can become crowded, which in turn can create safety issues for beginners.
“Expanding the park not only gives more skaters additional room but it also allows less experienced skaters more space and less pressure to enjoy the park,” he said.
The total project will cost an estimated $265,000 and fundraising continues for the final 5,700-square-foot phase. Organizers welcome donations of cash and in-kind labor and materials; email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/polsonskatepark.