Citizens express dislike for restricted open burning

Citizens approached the Lovell Town Council recently to express their concern about the reduced time for spring open burning in the town of Lovell.

Aletha Durtsche and Arlene Collins told the council at the April 9 meeting that they would like to help reverse or modify the recent decision by the Wyoming Dept. of Environmental Quality to prohibit open burning until school is out.

Durtsche thanked the town for “trying to help us” burn and expressed disappointment in the DEQ decision after the work that was done a few years ago to work with the state agency to come up with a workable burning plan.

“It’s sad that one person can influence the majority,” Durtsche said in reference to a complaint from Lovell Elementary School that led to the reduction in burning. “I’ve talked to a lot of people who want to burn.”

The town had asked the DEQ to allow burning – in the form of a setback waiver — on weekends until school is out and then extend the burning period from the current allowed June 1-23 through the rest of the summer and then on weekends again in the fall once school begins.

That request was granted by the DEQ Air Quality Division in a letter sent on April 12, and the town council voted in a special meeting April 17 to resume open burning on weekends. (See related story.)

Durtsche suggested that the town additionally request burning from 3 p.m. to 7 or 7:30 daily with the longer period of evening light during the spring. She said that would allow burning seven days a week rather than waiting until June 1 or concentrating burning on weekends, noting that some people of faith don’t want to burn on the Sabbath.

People need to get their yards and gardens cleaned up in time for planting, she said, noting that June isn’t early enough to prepare a flower bed or garden.

Collins said many people don’t have a pickup available to haul material. She said then open burning that was allowed on Easter weekend was too early and June is too late for burning. People need to burn in order to keep their yards nice, she said.

Lovell Inc.

Lovell Inc. Director Sue Taylor reported that the town is currently advertising for requests for bids for developing the old hospital property on East 10th Street for a senior housing project, saying that the cost of infrastructure may be an obstacle. She said there is no community development block grant money left in the current cycle, and Councilman Brian Dickson suggested that she look into money from the State Loan and Investment Board, noting, “the worst they can do is say no.”

Taylor said the town would seek an estimated $250,000 grant and the developer would match the grant with another $250,000. The council discussed whether a potential developer would need to be in place before a SLIB grant is submitted.

Taylor also discussed the grant request for the Countywide Strategic Plan for economic development (see related story) and her hopes for a countywide land grab where properties would be made available at low cost to encourage people to move to Big Horn County and build homes and/or businesses.

Street sweeper purchase

The council has been advised that it would be less expensive to pay the total cost of a new street sweeper now than to finance it out, Beal reported. The town has $100,000 in the current budget to put toward a new sweeper and had planned to finance the rest of the cost – about $76,000. But Beal said she had been advised to take the balance out of reserves and have the town pay itself back over the next three years, saving money on interest.

The council passed a budget resolution to appropriate money from the general fund to the capital improvements fund to pay for the balance of the sweeper.

In other business April 9:

•Gene Zeller told the council that he would like to place storage units on property he owns at Kansas and Second. He would like to remove a mobile home at the site that is uninhabitable and place storage units – four at first but with room for a total of 12. The lot is zoned mixed residential.

Town Attorney Sandra Kitchen read the allowances for mixed residential and Assistant Treasurer Ed Allred said storage units across the street were grandfathered in. Kitchen said a zone change would be needed but said the town cannot “spot zone” a particular lot. The council advised Zeller to begin with the town planning and zoning commission, chaired by Rick Banks.

•The council discussed the planned community cleanup scheduled for April 19-29. Mayor Bruce Morrison said the town has sent letters to service organizations and church groups encouraging them to participate in the cleanup by helping neighbors and friends.

•The council passed on second reading Ordinance 924, which would repeal the section of the town code establishing a museum board. The section of law became unnecessary in light of the current museum board forming a private, independent non-profit corporation to develop a museum.

•The council approved a liquor catering permit for the Four Corners Bar for the North Big Horn Hospital Foundation “Evening With Friends” fundraiser on April 27.

•After hearing a recommendation from Dickson, the council voted to approve the slate of delegates for the Wyoming Association of Municipalities Joint Powers Insurance Coverage board of directors.

•The council approved a resolution issued by Mayor Morrison declaring April 17 as Arbor Day in Lovell.

•The council approved on first reading the annual budget ordinance, 925, on first reading. With more budget work to be done, the ordinance currently calls for a 2013-14 budget of $8,665,258 for the period of July 1 through June 30.

•Also looking ahead to the 2013-14 fiscal year, the council voted to approve the annual tax levy for the Town of Lovell at 8 mills of assessed valuation.

•The council voted to designate Councilman Bruce Wolsey as the town’s official voting delegate to the Wyoming Association of Municipalities. Dickson will be the alternate.

•Clerk/Treasurer Beal reminded the council about the Earth Day Festival on Saturday, April 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Downtown Mural Park.

•Beal reported that town employee Ed Croft is working to form a committee to study the construction of a gazebo for the grounds of the Lovell Community Center.

The council adjourned the council meeting and went into a work meeting. The council will also hold a work meeting on Monday, April 29, at 7 p.m.

By David Peck