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Billings City Attorney responds to passing of Senate Bill 195



Billings, Montana – The City of Billings is responding to Family Promise of Yellowstone Valley after the Montana Senate approved a law allowing churches in Montana to utilize their facilities to host overnight guests (FPYV).

The city of Billings does not want to terminate any program that offers services to the community, according to Gina Dahl, the city’s attorney.

In a letter to Shane Colton, a lawyer who contacted the City on behalf of FPYV, Dahl claimed that the problem with the City was that churches are regarded as commercial structures and are as a result governed by the International Fire Code and the International Building Code.

“If a commercial building, in this case, a church, wishes to provide overnight shelter, it is considered outside of the allowed use for churches and constitutes a change of use for whatever portion of the building being used in that manner. Any use for a church that includes overnight sleeping of a transient nature must meet the requirements of the IBC for residential uses. It is important to note that multiuse spaces are required to meet code requirements for all the intended uses,” Dahl said.

Fire Marshall Bill Tatum allegedly warned in January that any church hosting overnight visitors should get in touch with him to see if they adhere to the standards.

Dahl claims that Tatum was not contacted by Family Promise’s partners regarding the criteria.

City representatives have made contact with Family Promise to schedule a meeting so that they can continue to collaborate.

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