Ennis to hold special meeting on North 40
Commission tables approval of plans for now
ENNIS - Despite the Madison County planning board’s recommendation that plans for the North 40 development be approved – with the conditions specified by the planning board – Ennis Town Commission, after a good bit of discussion, tabled any decision on the plans, on Thursday, May 10.
The town commission cited a need to have more time to review the particulars of the plans before making a decision.
County Planner Leona Stredwick explained the North 40 project to the commission, noting how its basic purpose was to provide affordable housing to the community via a mix of homes and townhouses, and how the plans jived with Ennis’s growth policy of 2014.
The plan calls for the subdivision of four large lots into 37 smaller ones on 493 acres of ground north of MT 287, east of US 287, Stredwick said. Some 37 housing units would occupy this ground, with a typical lot size of .08 acres
These new homes would be connected to city water, sewer, electric and fiber optic cable, and the development would have paved roads, curb, gutters and sidewalks.
The county planning board had two basic conditions associated with approving the plans, Stredwick told the commission: Two retaining ponds already on the location would have to be shown on the final plat of the ground, and these ponds would need to be maintained by the homeowners association (HOA).
Other than this, the plans were copasetic with the county, she said. However, the town com-mission could put its own stipulations on the project, if they wished. Stredwick also noted that while North 40 developer Josh Vujovich has three years to complete a final plat for North 40, the commission needed to make a decision on this by July.
Vujovich was at the meeting and hoping for the town’s approval to move forward with the plans.
Several commission members had questions about the plans.
Commissioner John Bancroft asked for more time to review the plans. He suggested a work session or another meeting to vote on the plans. He also asked about people parking horse trailers on the streets of the proposed development, how this had blocked fire trucks from get-ting down streets in Ennis in the past.
Bancroft said he liked the idea of the plans, and he noted that Ennis needs more affordable housing, he just needed some additional time to review the information.
Mayor Blake Leavitt and Commissioner Brandi Palmerton also asked for more time to look at the plans before making a decision.
Leavitt and Commissioner Cory Hardy wondered who would maintain the roads, the homeowners association or the city. Vujovich said this was still being worked out, but Stredwick noted that language in an earlier plat for the land dedicated the land to the town, which meant the town was responsible for road maintenance, but this could be changed with a quit claim deed that made the homeowners association responsible, if that was the commissioner’s wish.
Hardy also wondered about the square footage of the lots. Vujovich said the lots were about 5,500 square feet each.
The sole dissenter on taking action on the plans was Commissioner Lisa Roberts.
Roberts suggested that since the county had approved the plans and since Vujovich, Stredwick and others connected with the planning of the development were handy and available, the commission should take action.
Leavitt tabled any action on the plans and asked for a special session of the commission to consider North 40. Stredwick said she wasn’t sure if a representative of the county planning board would be available at another meeting.
A special session meeting date would be set for a later time.
In other business:
Randy Green, of Ennis, asked the commissioners to reconsider the parade routes through town so residents of Madison Valley Manor would be able to see them. Green said he came up with an alternative route through town – down Clark St. to Mt 287 then on to Main St. – so the “un-fortunate” experience of last year, how residents missed the parade, wouldn’t happen again.
Police Chief John Moore told Green that there was not enough time left to alter parade routes this year because this would have to run through the state Department of Transportation (MDOT), the agency that approved parade routes. Moore said it was a good thought, and that Green should pursue the idea for next year.
Jack Beals, of Ennis, wondered about the safety of the crosswalk that goes across Main St. from the Berkshire Hathaway office to Plain Janes. The other day, Beals said, he saw a group of preschoolers crossing the street from Shedhorn Sports to Plain Jane’s and a pickup truck headed down the hill didn’t slow, didn’t hesitate despite the fact that about 25 kids were in this crosswalk. Beals thought that there ought to be the curbing out further and to work with MDOT to make this crosswalk safer.
Roberts told Beals the city was working with MDOT on this issue and had plans to re-strike the crosswalk as a ladder style effort and put up rubber vertical delineators to alert drivers to slow down at this location. This was also a concern to her, because her son was one of the pre-schoolers in the group Beals saw, she said. Bancroft also expressed concern saying driver must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
Chief Moore shared with the commission that he’d visited Sheridan school recently to give students there “a strong talking-to” about the problems associated with cyber bullying, what it is, how not fall into its traps, how it’s against the law; also about sexting, harassment and bullying in general. He said he’d received good feedback from teachers and parents regarding this small group talk to grades 7 – 12. He will share a similar message with Ennis school students in similar grades.