The Dutton Town Council, meeting Aug. 7, dealt with a full agenda that included some good news on proposed new construction in town, and some bad news regarding vandalism and a series of hectic and expensive repairs stemming from water system breaks.
Local businessman Vern Greyn introduced John Pocock, who operates John S. Pocock Trucking LLC, based in Sugar City, Idaho, a company in business since 1979. The company website states that its employees haul bulk commodities in hopper bottom trailers throughout the United States and also in Canada. They haul coal, feed, fertilizer, grain, potatoes and specialty minerals such as sodium carbonate and “hot sulfur.” Pocock said his company recently garnered contracts to haul rock salt for winter de-icing on Montana highways.
The two men asked councilmembers Bob Dauwalder, Lanny Christman, Candace Ellsworth and Chuck Proff to change the zoning from residential to commercial for 26 vacant acres the Greyn family owns on the east side of Dutton. It is an L-shaped parcel that borders land owned by Laura Nowlin, James Fletcher, Tom Doheny, Robert Carney and the late Gary Johnson’s defunct convenience store land. (The latter parcel was sold to Sunrise Financial via a July 2015 tax deed.)
The parcel would have access on Dutton Highway 221, the town’s Main Street.
Greyn said the 26 acres was bought from Bob Suek who had wanted to, but never did, build a residential development on it some 40 years. Now Pocock wants to buy the property, gravel about five or six acres so that a semi pulling doubles could make a loop, install an aboveground unmanned UL-2085-type, double-walled, 20,000-gallon fuel tank with bollards to prevent vehicles from damaging it, and add other improvements including a card-operated fuel pump, a small heated building to house the necessary computer equipment, an overhead security light, a trash bin and a portable toilet.
Pocock said he wants to reduce fuel expenses while giving the drivers a place to refuel and rest, if needed, as they travel Interstate 15 from Alberta to Idaho, Utah and Nevada. Two or three a day might stop there.
The fuel tank installer would do the layout and obtain the various state permits, Pocock said. Dutton Mayor Susan Fleshman explained that the town would require him to submit a construction permit application for council approval once he has reached that stage of the development.
The council members had no objection to the project and approved the change in zoning contingent on the sale from Greyn to Pocock. Greyn said the southern six acres of the parcel would continue to have an agricultural exemption, and it was unclear whether Pocock would buy only 21 acres of the larger parcel.
Nowlin, who attended the council meeting, said she had no objections to the zoning change.
On another matter, Fleshman reported on a series of water system problems that caused the town to announce water restrictions twice during the past 30 days.
A water break along the Frontage Road brought the water level in the town’s water tank to an unacceptably low level, with the result that no outside watering other than on gardens and trees was allowed for a time.
Then a water break in the chlorine vault caused by corrosion flooded the chlorine tank, ruining the chemical supply. A new supply had to be overnighted to the town. A new pump was installed, and the town went back on restrictions. The chemical bill was $7,514, the well house parts cost $69 and the repairs cost $349.
On July 31 the sprinkler heads were vandalized, 35 heads in the lower park and 15 in the upper park, most likely by kicking them when sprinkling was occurring, a deputy told the mayor. The incident is under investigation by the Teton County Sheriff’s Office.
The town’s deductible is $1,000 and the costs for the sprinkler repairs so far are $1,304.55 paid to 2M Co. Inc. for new sprinkler head parts and $770 paid to Councilman Christman, who maintains the irrigation system.
To add to what Fleshman called a “hectic” and “very scary” time, the water-level sensor on the water tank apparently failed so that it incorrectly read “zero,” necessitating that the staff read the level manually at intervals on a backup gauge at the shop.
Fleshman asked that everyone be alert and if someone sees something to say something. The school and the cemetery are now on a watering schedule because they place the heaviest demand on the system.
In other business, the council:
•Authorized a municipal election by mail-in ballots on Nov. 7. Mayor Fleshman is running unopposed but there is a three-way race for two council seats. Christman and Proff filed for re-election and newcomer Frank P. Klein filed.
•Approved on second reading Ordinance No. 6-8, Decay and Junk Vehicle Nuisance. It is posted on the website, www.townofdutton.com.
•Approved construction applications as follows: Joyce Field of Pendroy, a shed at 10 First St. N.W.; Tom and Judy Doheny, replace existing deck and add ramp at 203 Central Ave. S.; Tom and Dana Mattfeldt of Glendale, Arizona, build a duplex with garages and full basements at 16 Second Ave. S.E. (Ellsworth abstained because of her family relationship with the contractor, Walt’s Construction.)
•Rescheduled the next meeting from Sept. 4, a holiday, to 5 p.m. on Sept. 5 for a public hearing on the 2017-18 budget with the regular meeting to follow at 5:15 p.m.