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Sep 27, 2005

City Council Orders Contentious Map Redrawn

After a long contentious meeting pitting outdoor enthusiasts against property rights advocates, the Billings, Montana City Council has ordered the Heritage Trail Plan redrawn. The map was intended as a strategy for implementing the city's vision of increasing non-motorized transportation over the next 10 to 20 years, as well as a guide for future trail and bikeway development. Trail advocates said that the comprehensive trail plan was essential to developing safe, nonmotorized transportation inside and outside the city. Rural property objected to the map's depiction of proposed trails across private property. Property which the owner had not granted permission for the trail to cross. Property owners argued that the plan was a threat to their private property rights.

After a two hour hearing, the City Council ordered the plan redrawn to eliminate proposed trails extending across private property. Instead, maps included in the plan will feature only conceptual sketches of areas that could be considered for future trail development. Potential starting and ending points for proposed trails will be shown, but no lines crossing private property. The maps will also feature a prominent disclaimer that says that property owners haven't given up any rights even though trails are being considered in their neighborhood.

Complete article from Billings Gazette.