Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
With one week remaining on a 30-day public comment period on a proposed zoning change that could allow the construction of a new Border Patrol station near Havre, the Hill County Commission said comments have mostly been favorable. Commissioner Kathy Bessette said the meeting where the zoning change was proposed, on Feb. 8, was well attended, and has been followed by many letters commenting on the proposal. While most have been very supportive, not all are certain, she added. “Some (people) don’t know how they feel,” she said. The 30-day comment period on the proposed zoning change, required by state law, will end on March 10. The application, made by Ronald and Lupe Daniel along with Richard and Nancy Daniel, is to rezone approximately 15 acres just south of the intersection of 16th Avenue West and Second Street West to commercial use. The rezoning will be contingent on the land being used for commercial purposes, and the land will revert to agricultural use if the deal falls through. “ I t ’s not a done deal , " Commission Chair Mike Wendland said about the Border Patrol station being located on the land in question. A representative of the U.S. General Services Administration, which is pursuing the construction of the station, said GSA and Customs and Border Protection have identified a possible site for the new station, but could not comment on the site while negotiations are under way. The Daniels could not be reached for comment. The county commissioners said most comments on the proposed zoning change have been favorable, although some people have asked about activities related to the station, especially regarding the use of helicopters. Bessette added that some of those comments were not completely in opposition to the zoning change, but simply raised some concerns. The new station, scheduled to be constructed and operating by December, according to an advertisement in Federal Business Opportunity last fall, will be designed to house the operations of 50 agents. It will be designed to be expanded to house more agents if necessary. Under the plan for new construction, the Border Patrol Sector Headquarters located just south of Havre will remain where it is. Another station of the same design as Havre’s is planned to be opened at the town of Sweetgrass, just south of the Sweetgrass/Coutts Port of Entry on U.S. Interstate 15 north of Shelby. The most cost-effective way to build the new stations is to have private entities build the facilities and lease them to Customs and Border Protection, a representative of the agency said last fall, adding that the new station will provide more room and state-of-the-art technology for the agents. The facility on Bullhook Drive is too small for the number of agents stationed there, the representative said. New stations also have been constructed in Shelby, Malta, Plentywood and Scobey, designed for 20 agents and able to expand for more agents, and have also been built by private entities and leased to the government. The GSA and Customs and Border Protection would not comment on the exact number of agents who will be stationed in Havre due to security concerns.