City staff proposing changes to several sections of city code

City staff are working on revisions and updates to several sections of city code.

Jeff Hindoien, deputy city attorney, walked City Commissioners through some of the proposed changes during their Aug. 17 work session.

One of those changes would update the city’s regulations related to weapons due to the passage of LR-130 last year and a legislative change this year.

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Those laws have “dramatically reduced the ability of local governments to regulate,” the carrying of weapons with its jurisdiction, Hindoien said.

The city has long regulated the carrying of weapons within the city, and for the most part prohibited weapons in city facilities and in city parks.

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Hindoien said staff is working on an update to bring the city code in line with the new state laws but that the city can still restrict unpermitted concealed carry in facilities owned and occupied by the city as well as restrict permitted concealed carry in secure areas of law enforcement facilities that it owns and operates.

The law allows courts to impose restrictions and Municipal Court Judge Steve Bolstad has issued a standing order prohibiting weapons in the Civic Center, where the Municipal Court is located, other than law enforcement or judicial personnel with current and valid permits.

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The city is also looking at updating the social host ordinance, which currently only addresses underage alcohol consumption, to also include marijuana as state laws have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults.

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Hindoien said that the Great Falls Police Department views the ordinance as a valuable enforcement tool and deterrent to underage parties with prohibited substances.

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Other proposed changes are coming from Great Falls Fire Rescue related to the adoption of the 2018 International Fire Code, particularly as it relates to fire inspections, testing and maintenance and the reporting of those tasks.

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A proposed change will also address false alarms on fire systems since there has been “significant time expended by GFFR in responding to false alarms,” Hindoien said.

The proposed change would allow for fines for the third and subsequent false alarm in a calendar yet, he said.

Hindoien said there’s also a proposed change to send appeals related to street openings and excavation denials to the Board of Appeals, where most other appeals are sent, to make for consistency in the code.

Hindoien said he wasn’t sure of the timeline for when staff would bring the proposed changes in draft form to the commission, but that he wanted them to aware of the coming changes so they could give feedback or ask questions ahead of time.