Havre Daily News
A special committee of the Havre City Council on Tuesday night decided to put off further discussion of a land sale proposal until its members receive more information.
Havre Mayor Bob Rice also disclosed the locations of two other sites in town that meet the requirements of the federal General Services Administration, which must approve the site of a new U.S. Border Patrol facility.
The committee also decided to extend the lease of the Havre Trap Club. The club's lease of land south of town will now run through 2031.
The extension means the club has a better chance to get a grant to repay an $18,000 loan used to buy new equipment. The grant required a long-term lease.
City Council president and committee chair Rick Pierson said he wanted to take the issue of the land sale proposal, made by Phoenix-based Hewson Development, back to the full City Council.
“We need to go back to the council and get a vote on whether or not to sell the land,” he said. “It isn't up to the committee to approve land sales.”
Council member Gerry Veis requested that the $300,000 offer be put to a vote at the June 5 City Council meeting, but Rice said he would do his best to stop such a vote because he thinks the City Council needs more information.
“Whether the City Council wants to sell could be dependent on what Hewson and GSA say,” Rice said.
Rice added that the General Services Administration would be in town soon. He said this morning the tentative date set for the officials' arrival is June 6. Rice hopes to have a public meeting so the officials can address questions.
He said he's received calls from residents concerned with helicopter noise and bright lighting at the proposed facility. The members discussed whether the council should address land sale proposals on a case-by-case basis.
“It's not an issue of this proposal,” Veis said. “The discussion should be about selling city land in general.”
Pierson disagreed with Vies and said the City Council should decide on each proposal.
“What we're dealing with is this particular piece,” Pierson said. “Not to disagree with you, but this should be done on a case-by-case basis.”
Councilman Terry Schend added that with each case, the city should know the intention of the buyer.
“We need to know the purpose of the potential property owner,” Schend said. “We need to have a feasibility study done to see how it would affect the surrounding community.”
Brandon said perhaps the city should first assess the value of the property before even considering whether to sell it.
“How much value does this property have for the city?” Brandon asked.
He asked the mayor if he could tell the committee where and how many other sites had been proposed that met the government's needs.
“How many other sites will suit GSA'S needs?” Brandon asked.
Rice said three sites have been shown to meet the three requirements he knows of: The site must be located at least one-quarter mile from a school, there must be access to sewer and water and the Border Patrol doesn't want to be in an area with a speed limit faster than 55 mph because of the access turn-off.
In addition to the site Hewson is proposing to purchase, which is located south of the Havre Ice Dome, Rice said he knows a site on the east end behind the old Ford Tractor lot and another site, located behind Kmart, each meet the federal government's needs.
Rice has said he is opposed to the Hewson proposal because a portion of the 30-acre lot is leased from the city by the Saddle Butte RC Club.