Demolition Saga Continues at Council Meeting


 

THE REAR OF THE HISTORIC BLUE RANGE CRIBS IS SHOWN HERE. THE BUILDING IS SLATED FOR DEMOLITION DUE TO EXECUTIVE ACTION BY BUTTE SILVER BOW. PHOTO CREDIT: DANIEL HOGAN



Hello all and welcome to KBMF’s wrap up of last weeks meeting of the Butte Silver Bow Council of Commissioners. I’m Daniel Hogan and every week we will look back at actions taken by the legislative body of our government and look forward to tonight’s agenda which can be heard live on KBMF starting at 7:30 pm.

So let’s get started.

The March 3rd meeting started off with Chief Executive Gallagher defending his decision to remove Butch Gerbrandt from both the Historic Preservation Commission and the Superfund Advisory Trust Authority. Mr. Gerbrandt was removed after submitting a satirical letter to the council of commissioners which was reported on during this program two weeks ago. For full disclosure, Mr. Gerbrandt is the treasurer of the Butte America Foundation, the nonprofit that operates KBMF.

The items reflected in the notorious letter were the impending demolitions of several buildings in Butte and the culture surrounding it. The Blue Range Cribs at 56 E. Mercury, a home at 2509 State Street and a building at 135 E. Park Street make up a recent wave of demolitions that are all ongoing, pending or stalled in some manner. Historic preservationists in the county are at wits’ end trying to find alternatives to sending the buildings to the landfill and the city seems determined to uphold property rights and the wishes of the owners.

Letters to the council last Wednesday weighed heavily on the side of property rights.

Peggy Guccione, who in a previous letter outlined a plan to purchase and save the Blue Range Cribs, wrote in again to reiterate her commitment to saving the building.

Ms. Guccione makes the point that her purchase of the Blue Range is contingent on the actions of the council that night, but earlier in the week Chief Executive Gallagher, Building Codes Official Mike Nasheim and County Attorney Molly Maffei invoked a public safety exclusion. This exclusion, which lies in the municipal code, would supered any action of the council or Historic Preservation Commission in the case of a building that has been deemed too dangerous to stand. Even though this action did not need any public or legislative approval it was added to Section 2 of the agenda.

Also in that section was the proposal by Jennifer Mitchell to demolish the home next to hers on State Street. The council voted unanimously to send this back to the HPC for a special meeting and override the 45 day stay on demolition.

Mike Nasheim then stated the county’s stance on the Blue range to council

The commissioners were frustrated, confused and at a loss for what to do about anything that night. This was most effectively illustrated by commissioner Dan O’Neill’s comments.

Commissioner Callahan also pointed out the many flaws in the system by questioning Building Official Nashiem.

Discussion devolved from there into loops of committees to form and explorations to do in order to prevent this kind of situation in the future. The dangerous buildings ordinance, the codified historic preservation process and private property rights are all at odds and any suggestion to save or tear down a historic or even possibly historic structure in Butte Silver Bow is a guaranteed fight.

The executive action was symbolically approved 9-2 by council and essentially absolves the city of any further action on the Blue Range. It’s fate now lies with Larry Hoffman, Staaks Motorsports and possibly Peggy Guccione.

Tonight’s Council meeting should be a lighter affair, Budget Director Danette Gleason will give a presentation on the financial report and audit of fiscal year 2020 and council may act on Eldon Beall’s request to end the feeding of the hungry in Emma Park.

Tune in to hear it live on KBMF 102.5 every Wednesday at 7:30pm

Due to the virtual nature of the Council Meetings, if you would like to provide comment on agenda items or any issue, you must either call 406 497-5009 to submit verbal comment or submit written comment via email to public-input@bsb.mt.gov

All of this information can be found with this story at butteamericaradio.org

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