Saturday, October 29, 2011

Terry City Council dealing with growth problems

The Terry City Council met in special night session at the Terry Town Hall on October 27, 2011 to enact an emergency zoning ordinance. It would have prohibited the construction of any new trailer courts, campgrounds, work camps, hotels, motels, or other multi-unit housing complexes, within the Town of Terry and up to 1 mile beyond the corporate boundaries of the town to take effect immediately after passing for an initial period of 6 months with possible extensions for up to 2 1/2 years. Dire consequences, associated with any sudden influx of transient oil workers into the small town of Terry, were outlined in a handout given out to the attendees prior to the meeting.

Terry Town Council - Ron Kiosse, Mayor from right to left around the table from him are Lynn Strassheim, City Clerk, Becky Convery, City Attorney, Josh Helmuth, Tom Pisk, Clinton Rakes and Rolane Christofferson, City Council Members

The meeting was attended by an overflow crowd of about 85 residents, who were allowed to voice their opinions prior to the council taking the ordinance under consideration for their final vote, with most of them indicating opposition to the ordinance. Local Terry resident Steve Phipps, who consults with oil companies in the Bakken oil field, made one of the most eloquent comments defending the hard working people in the oil and pipeline industry. His remarks included the drug screen requirements in the pre-hiring process of any workers as well as ongoing random drug and alcohol testing being conducted by the companies working in the industry. One infraction of the rules, including being found under the influence of alcohol or drugs, may be cause for immediate termination and removal from any facility housing the individual involved.

Many other excellent points were made for and some against passing this ordinance by town’s people well as ranchers and farmers in Prairie County. But the one predominating theme during the hearing was the dampening effect it might have on attracting new people and businesses to move to the small town of Terry, which has a currently population count of 602 per the US census. This ordinance also would have sent a clear message to the oil companies they would not be wanted in Terry and their workers and corporate people would, if given the choice, avoid doing business in the town.

After hearing the comments against the ordinance during the public hearing Becky Convery recommended to the City Council she’d be allowed her to rework the onerously written ordinance. She said she could make it more palatable to any new residents as well as prospective businesses and make it conform with upcoming any growth and zoning studies once the committees complete their work.

Becky offered to take out the most of the offensive and confusing language. Instead of calling it an "emergency zoning ordinance" it would be re-titled an "urgent zoning ordinance". Exceptions could be made on a case to case basis for companies and persons inquiring to move their businesses or establish multi-unit homes in Terry. She agreed to take the word, "transients", which is usually referred to as being "homeless", out of any language in the proposed ordinance.

In addition Becky Convery advised the council during their discussions any previous actions dealing zoning issues, including previous ones limiting keeping horses and chickens on any property within the Terry city limits, cannot be enforced until a zoning and a growth plan first is first adopted by the Terry City Council.

About the Author - Bob van der Valk lives in Terry, Montana and is a Petroleum Industry Analyst with over 50 years of experience. He has been quoted by the news media as well as government entities and be contacted at: or (406) 853-4251.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How do you feel about having a man-camp in or near Terry?

The Terry Tribune is conducting a poll to register your opinion about a proposed emergency interim zoning ordinance by the City Council of the Town of Terry at:

This ordinance will prohibit the construction of any new trailer courts, camp grounds, work camps, hotels, motels or other multi-unit housing within the town of Terry and up to a one-mile radius of Terry's town limits. If passed it will be effective for an initial period of 6 months and, after another public hearing, can be extended for up to one year. This ordinance specifically addresses concerns we would have with problems associated with an influx of a large number of transient workers.


How do you feel about having a man-camp in or near Terry?

1. No, it would bring too many transients and increase crime in our town.

2. No, it would cause too much strain on our water, sewage services and other infrastructures.

3. Yes, businesses and Terry as a whole would benefit from the increase of people it would bring.

4. Yes, but the man-camps shouldn't neighbor our residential area of town.

Please pass this email along to anyone concerned with this issue and either register your opinion with the Terry Tribune on-line poll or respond to my email with your vote. You may also include your view points in your email responses, which I will present to the Terry City Council at the public hearing being held at 7 pm tonight, Thursday, October 27, 2011 at Terry Town Hall.

Your neighbor,

Bob van der Valk
508 S. Washington Ave.
Terry, Montana 59349