Gallatin Co. resident continues appeal against county ordinance


BOZEMAN, Mont. - The appeal process continues for one Gallatin County man after being cited for violating a county ordinance in 2013. Ron Page owns property along Jackrabbit Lane near Belgrade. The 20 acres near the busy road got its first complaint back in December of 2012. A few more were given to the Gallatin County Compliance Department in 2013. "I don't go out and look for situations of potential violations. That means members of the public contact me with concerns that they have," said Nicole Olmstead, the code compliance director for the county. Olmstead went to take a look for herself in February of 2013. Page was found to be in violation of the Community Decay ordinance. "Prohibits people from owning or maintaining a public nuisance that is visible from a public road," said Olmstead.

We wanted to know what would violate the ordinance. According to the ordinance the term "community decay" means a public nuisance created by allowing rubble, debris, junk or refuse to accumulate, resulting in conditions that are injurious to health, indecent, offensive to the senses, or which obstruct the free use of property so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property.

We asked Olmstead to give us an example of what the county has seen in the past. "A real common example is if you neighbor likes to work on automobiles, so they have a number of them parked on their property," said Olmstead. Olmstead tells us in the matter of the property along Jackrabbit Lane, the property that was in violation was the part you can see from road. The ordinance cites that it is considered a violation if you own or maintain any public nuisance that results in community decay visible from a public roadway. From what we could see along the roadway, there were piles of wood and other materials scattered about. Olmstead explained to us what she knows about the front portion of that property. "It came out that Mr. Page may be in some type of lease agreement with someone who runs a logging business," said Olmstead. We sat down with Olmstead Thursday afternoon to look at aerial photos dating back to 1995. Back then the property was an empty field.

Olmstead tells us that Page has owned the property since 2008. When we looked at aerial photos from 2009 and 2011, you could see where the items began accumulating across the acreage. We spoke to Page over the phone late Thursday evening. He tells us he has taken hundreds of loads off of his property and will continue to do so. He also tells us he intends to go forth with his original cleanup plan.

There is a planned hearing about this ordinance and the property on Jackrabbit Lane scheduled for January 28. The issue is listed as an item on the Gallatin County Commission meeting agenda slated for 9 a.m. next Tuesday.