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Council talks about neighborhood issues

 

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The Havre City Council heard a sometimes lively discussion ranging from freedom of information to being good neighbors during its public comment portion of its meeting in City Hall Tuesday.

Local resident Chuck Grant started the public comment period with a complaint about a lack of information.

Grant said that, when he attended an Ordinance Committee meeting he was not provided with a copy of the proposed ordinance regulating trees in Havre, as he requested. Grant asked that, in the future, documentation about the issues discussed be available for people attending the meetings so they can follow the discussions.

"That is why the public is here, so we can know," Grant said.

Local residents Val Murri and Sandy Curtiss asked the council about issues regarding neighbors cluttering up neighborhoods. Their concerns ranged from cars or other vehicles being parked and not moved to large numbers of vehicles and junk collecting on property and the street, or people leaving objects like indoor furniture out in their yards.

Grant responded that, instead of going to the City Council to complain, people should try talking to their neighbors about problems first.

"You should encourage people, if they have a complaint against their neighbor, go talk to him," Grant said. "And then, if you can't get anywhere call the police … this little game of turning people in, it turns into a nightmare.

"You have to be considerate and know what is going on," he added.

Murri replied that he has tried to deal with the issues. They often cause safety problems, blocking the view of the street, he said.

"It's just common courtesy; it's common decency," he said. "We shouldn't have to complain every year about the same person."

Curtiss said she has tried many times to talk to her neighbors, about issues ranging from cars to apparent junk vehicles and collections of assorted items cluttering the neighborhood. The problem stays or returns if it does get better.

"I'm afraid it will go down the street like it did three years ago," she said. "I'm tired of looking at it."

Murri echoed her. He said junk-filled yards bring down the value of the entire neighborhood.

"To me, it's an eyesore. It should be taken care of," he said.

Deputy Director of Public Works Jeff Jensen said his department can tale care of many issues like those Curtiss and Murri described.

"We'll be able to address it," he said.

Murri said he had made a complaint about a vehicle that had not been moved for some time — he mentioned trailers, boats and vehicles that had remained parked all summer — but when he declined to give his name, nothing happened for several days.

Havre Police Chief Jerry Nystrom said people always will be asked their name when they make a complaint, but they can make them anonymously. That slows down the process, he said.

If no signed complaint is provided, the police must start from scratch, he said. The vehicle will be marked, and if it has not moved in two days, the owner will be warned, he said. If it still has not moved in two days, the owner will be ticketed.

"If (the person making the complaint) wants to remain anonymous, that's fine … ," Nystrom said. "But without a statement that they will testify to we have to start from scratch, have to start fresh."

Murri also addressed several other issues he said he would like the city to look into.

"This is just food for thought," he said.

One was the use of cellular telephones while driving. Murri said many Montana cities have approved or are looking at ordinances to limit or ban cell phone use while driving a vehicle. As the cell phones become more complex, the problems of distraction is likely to increase, he said.

Council Member Andrew Brekke said that is an issue the Ordinance Committee is considering taking up.

He added that, often, when people have legitimate complaints, the city and its law enforcement has protocol to follow. He recommended, from his experience in the Ordinance Committee, that if people have a complaint they can't resolve, they do sign a formal complaint, whether it is with the police or the animal control officer or with whichever entity handles the issue.

Murri also said he has some problems with the street maintenance, from not all potholes not being filled to weeds growing on the sides of streets.

"I'm not doing anything right now, and I'd be more than glad to help the city fill the holes," he said. "I don't like driving through them."

The Havre City Council heard a sometimes lively discussion ranging from freedom of information to being good neighbors during its public comment portion of its meeting in City Hall Tuesday.

Local resident Chuck Grant started the public comment period with a complaint about a lack of information.

Grant said that, when he attended an Ordinance Committee meeting he was not provided with a copy of the proposed ordinance regulating trees in Havre, as he requested. Grant asked that, in the future, documentation about the issues discussed be available for people attending the meetings so they can follow the discussions.

"That is why the public is here, so we can know," Grant said.

Local residents Val Murri and Sandy Curtiss asked the council about issues regarding neighbors cluttering up neighborhoods. Their concerns ranged from cars or other vehicles being parked and not moved to large numbers of vehicles and junk collecting on property and the street, or people leaving objects like indoor furniture out in their yards.

Grant responded that, instead of going to the City Council to complain, people should try talking to their neighbors about problems first.

"You should encourage people, if they have a complaint against their neighbor, go talk to him," Grant said. "And then, if you can't get anywhere call the police … this little game of turning people in, it turns into a nightmare.

"You have to be considerate and know what is going on," he added.

Murri replied that he has tried to deal with the issues. They often cause safety problems, blocking the view of the street, he said.

"It's just common courtesy; it's common decency," he said. "We shouldn't have to complain every year about the same person."

Curtiss said she has tried many times to talk to her neighbors, about issues ranging from cars to apparent junk vehicles and collections of assorted items cluttering the neighborhood. The problem stays or returns if it does get better.

"I'm afraid it will go down the street like it did three years ago," she said. "I'm tired of looking at it."

Murri echoed her. He said junk-filled yards bring down the value of the entire neighborhood.

"To me, it's an eyesore. It should be taken care of," he said.

Deputy Director of Public Works Jeff Jensen said his department can tale care of many issues like those Curtiss and Murri described.

"We'll be able to address it," he said.

Murri said he had made a complaint about a vehicle that had not been moved for some time — he mentioned trailers, boats and vehicles that had remained parked all summer — but when he declined to give his name, nothing happened for several days.

Havre Police Chief Jerry Nystrom said people always will be asked their name when they make a complaint, but they can make them anonymously. That slows down the process, he said.

If no signed complaint is provided, the police must start from scratch, he said. The vehicle will be marked, and if it has not moved in two days, the owner will be warned, he said. If it still has not moved in two days, the owner will be ticketed.

"If (the person making the complaint) wants to remain anonymous, that's fine … ," Nystrom said. "But without a statement that they will testify to we have to start from scratch, have to start fresh."

Murri also addressed several other issues he said he would like the city to look into.

"This is just food for thought," he said.

One was the use of cellular telephones while driving. Murri said many Montana cities have approved or are looking at ordinances to limit or ban cell phone use while driving a vehicle. As the cell phones become more complex, the problems of distraction is likely to increase, he said.

Council Member Andrew Brekke said that is an issue the Ordinance Committee is considering taking up.

He added that, often, when people have legitimate complaints, the city and its law enforcement has protocol to follow. He recommended, from his experience in the Ordinance Committee, that if people have a complaint they can't resolve, they do sign a formal complaint, whether it is with the police or the animal control officer or with whichever entity handles the issue.

Murri also said he has some problems with the street maintenance, from not all potholes not being filled to weeds growing on the sides of streets.

"I'm not doing anything right now, and I'd be more than glad to help the city fill the holes," he said. "I don't like driving through them."

 
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