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Billings subdivision fights commercial construction

Cedar Park Subdivison
Posted at 3:09 PM, Sep 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-24 17:09:31-04

Homeowners from the Cedar Park subdivision near the Billings landfill are fighting back against a rezoning proposal that would allow construction of a car wash and coffee shop near their neighborhood.

The Cedar Park subdivision has only one entrance into the neighborhood, Santiago Boulevard. Homeowners like Cecil Wervin worry about the additional traffic in their area that will ensue with the new businesses.

"Now that they are going to put something that is going to have a lot of vehicle traffic, that's a bigger concern just because this is a residential access street," Wervin said.

The owners of the Blue Creek storage facility are the ones asking to rezone the property. In the plans submitted to the city of Billings, they discuss the benefits that the new businesses would provide to the growing community. The owners of Blue Creek storage facility chose not to comment at this time.

Rhiannon Briggs is another home owner in Cedar Park. She believes they could use the current entrance into the storage facility and rework it so that it could reach the new car wash, rather than using Santiago Boulevard, which runs directly into their neighborhood.

"I mean this is our only way in and out. We have no other options, and they have another option where they can go out theri existing entry/exit, and they chose not to," Briggs said.

More traffic will lead to safety concerns, especially in an area that already deals with quite a bit of traffic like Blue Creek road. Charles Stiff lives in Cedar Park and he witnesses first hand every morning how busy the area can become. He said that their neighborhood doesn't want the traffic to affect their safety.

"The people who live here in Cedar Park we've all focused around the safety of using our two lane country road here for this new car wash," Stiff said.

Every morning, students walk down to Blue Creek road to catch the bus for school. Briggs said that the traffic becomes even more congested at this time.

"It's very dangerous. All those children have to walk down to the gas station every morning to get to the bus. It puts the children at far more of a risk than they need to be," Briggs said.

A petition has made it's way through the Cedar Park subdivision. 115 people have signed the document, which will be presented to the City Council on Monday.

"We'd like to see them maybe take the entrance back over there or maybe come up with a different entrance off the highway," Stiff said.

The issue is that signatures on the petition only count as opposition if they live within 150 feet of the construction. In this case, the Cedar Park subdivision does not meet those parameters.

"Our vote really isn't being counted in this opposition to oppose. Even though we've gone out and gone the signatures, they will not inlcude that as an opposition vote because we are not an owner," Stiff said.

Homeowners in the area recognize that the business would have its benefits, but they believe there are better ways to avoid some of the additional traffic.

"I'm not against the business. I'm just against how they are going to access it and use our road," Wervin said.

But most of all, they just want their voices to be heard.

"I think it's kind of being run through in the wrong direction and not getting residents a chance," Briggs said.

"We feel like the pulse of the people hasn't been really listened to. We've been ignored," Stiff said.