The city of Havre will give one more try to convince businesses to voluntarily file for business licenses.
Planning and Zoning Committee members were disturbed that only 17 of an estimated 400 businesses in the city have voluntarily obtained the licenses. Some of the 17 were home-based businesses that didn't have to obtain a license, Chair Janet Trethewey said.
So the committee extended the deadline for filing for licenses from Wednesday, Sept. 1 to Friday, Sept. 10, and decided to mount a radio and newspaper public relations effort aimed at explaining the city's need for information that can be obtained from the license applications. Letters will be sent to 400 businesses in the city, and leaders of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce will be contacted.
Committee members were hopeful that the approach would elicit more responses, but they were not optimistic there would be widespread compliance.
"The people opposed to any kind of license are not going to do it," said committee member Allen "Woody" Woodwick. "We are not going to get adequate information from the voluntary system."
City officials said the information gleaned from the licenses can be helpful as the city redraws the zoning lines.
"Most Montana cities have rezoned two or three times since Havre last did," Trethewey said. "We are under the gun."
While some businesses may be willing to provide the information, others will resist, it was agreed.
"A number of businesses are salivating to test us legally," said committee member Andrew Brekke.
The committee will next meet on Tuesday, Sept. 14, and Trethewey said the committee will know by then what the level of compliance will be.
Committee members said the license would be helpful to businesses as the city redraws the zoning lines. The city often does not know what kind of business takes place in some parts of the city.
The city might rezone an area residential, not knowing that there are businesses in the area, Public Works Director David Peterson said.
That would not affect the business, but would limit opportunities for selling the property.
A florist in a residential, for example, could sell the property for use as a florist but could not sell it for use as a used car dealership, he said.