HRDC provides details on looking for new food bank location


Last updated 2/9/2022 at 11:45am

District 4 Human Resources and Development Council has provided some details and clarifications on their efforts to create a new location for the Havre Food Bank in response to a conversation that took place at a Havre City Council hearing Monday evening.

After their monthly meeting Havre City Council held a hearing on a request by Havre resident Jim Treperinas to change the zoning designation of a city block on Fifth Avenue between 14th and 16th streets to allow for a new location for the Havre Food Bank.

Treperinas said he and his son George had talked to people at HRDC who said they’ve been having trouble maintaining the current location of the food bank, at 453 Seventh Ave. North in North Havre, and he offered to let them use one of his properties.

Jim Treperinas said the location in question is closer to the center of Havre, more accessible and will provide more space for the operation, and he’d like to help the community by doing this.

He said HRDC had already chosen from among the locations he offered them and their board had voted on the matter, but HRDC Executive Director Carilla French, who was not available for comment until Tuesday afternoon, said Treperinas seems to have misunderstood HRDC’s current position.

While her organization is looking into a new location for the food bank, and Treperinas did make a kind offer they are interested in looking at, French said, they did not choose any particular property he offered, nor did they agree to the offer in general.

She also said the board didn’t have a vote on the matter, as they are still in early exploratory phases of this project, so they have no position on Treperinas’ efforts to change the zoning designation of his property.

She said HRDC’s current location is cramped and hard to access for food deliveries so they are looking for something new, but concrete plans are still a ways away.

Later Tuesday Treperinas said, upon learning of HRDC’s response, he wanted to apologize to them and to the city council for his mistake, and he’s been trying to get in touch with relevant parties to get the misunderstanding straightened out.

Regardless of the misunderstandings, Treperinas’ plan garnered quite a few supporters at Monday’s meeting, and there seems to be interest in creating a more central location for the food bank, one that is more accessible not just for those making use of their services, but those donating food to them.

Perry Atchison spoke in favor of the project Monday. He said during the hearing that last year he went around collecting food for the food bank from people, 15 of whom thanked him for doing it because they couldn’t bring the donations to the food bank themselves due to its location, so there is clearly interest in a more centralized location.

Havre resident and former city council member Bob Kaul, along with others, also spoke in favor of the proposed project, saying it’s a good move for the city and the people who live there.

Council members did ask questions about the practicality of the location and about the finer points of the plan, and while no one at the hearing spoke out against the effort, the council did raise some concerns including the opinions of the other property owners on the block.

Treperinas said he wasn’t able to get in touch with every property owner in the area, but none of the ones he contacted expressed any misgivings about the change.

Havre Mayor Doug Kaercher said notice of the hearing has been announced to the public and those with concerns had the opportunity to come.

Council Member Andrew Brekke said he received a couple phone calls from property owners who didn’t exactly voice opposition to the change, but did ask about how much the zoning change would open up the are a to new buildings.

Brekke said the zoning change would apply to the whole block. Under this change, someone could build something like a restaurant, tire shop or other business in the area and the council has to take into account not just Treperinas’ intentions, but what it could open the area up to when considering the decision.

Havre Public Works Director Dave Peterson also brought up that the food bank could ask for a conditional use exemption to create an up-to 1,500 square foot facility, but Treperinas said HRDC is looking for something considerably bigger.

Peterson said the Zoning Board of Adjustments has looked at the issue and provided their recommendations to the council, which will hear arguments for and against, and vote on the matter at next month’s meeting.

The final decision on the matter will be made at the council’s next meeting March 7 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.


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