Growth policy, transportation planning, zoning under surveillance as Missoula grows

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As the city updates its growth policy as required by law, planners past and present are considering necessary changes to the city code and are taking a closer look at zoning so that it can be met. ‘aligns with the policy itself.

Planning board members earlier this month suggested that Missoula’s growth policy itself is little more than a tale of how the metropolitan area is expected to develop. Zoning is necessary to guide the objectives of the policy towards effective implementation.

But it can take a while, and it will likely start with a zoning audit starting next year.

“The point is to look at our regulations and assess them to determine to what extent they do not affect our policies,” said city planner Ben Brewer. “Coming out of this audit, that’s really where we start this conversation, in which direction we’re headed. “

As this orientation has not yet been written, the members of the municipal council are already looking for new results, in particular those which improve the supply of housing in the city, the way in which transport plays in the mix and how the objective of internal growth can better take into account the growth occurring in peripheral areas.

Point zoning could be replaced with a broader Unified Development Ordinance, something that combines traditional zoning with subdivision bylaws and other city goals into one document that becomes policy.

“It’s great that we are heading to a UDO. It’s the wave of the future, ”said Board member Mirtha Becerra. “So many communities that have implemented it have experienced growth difficulties. At first it can be difficult to get it started. But once in place, it does a lot in terms of efficiency and consistency, and it improves the collaboration that needs to happen between departments.

While reviewing the growth policy updates in early October, members of the Consolidated Planning Board praised the document for its vision and scope. But several suggested that it remains unfinished five years after adoption, since zoning never followed.

The city completed what Brewer described as a “major zoning overhaul” in 2009, but the city adopted its new growth policy six years later. This new policy is still guided by zoning that is now over a decade old.

Without modern zoning, said planning council members, growth policy is little more than an incomplete vision. They described the lack of zoning as ongoing monitoring.

“I feel like a lot of the board’s comments resonate with me,” said Jordan Hess, board member. “I know there are challenges in changing the overall zoning of the city to match the growth policy and the land use map. But there are certainly benefits to this, and I hope we explore this through the process of code reform. “

Hess also urged city staff to assess Missoula’s long-standing goal of organic growth. While this approach is not likely to change, he said now is the time to explore ways to guide the development of clustered “nodes” in reasonable locations.

Areas like Frenchtown, Lolo, Wye and Bonner could be considered for such guiding policies and closer coordination between city and county.

“People move to these outlying areas based on housing costs,” Hess said. “If we don’t recognize it through the growth policy, I think it would be a mistake. There is a way to recognize this and shape a good knot development that fuels our inner-centered development.

Becerra agreed and said transportation should be part of this conversation.

“I hope we will look at the benefits of transit-oriented development and how we can integrate transportation as part of our approach to growth and land use in our community,” he said. she declared. “There are real benefits and good guidelines for how to grow with transit in mind. “

As the city updates its growth policy and embarks on a zoning audit, it is also set to adopt its brand new long-term transportation plan. The two processes play out side by side and one cannot be considered without the other.

The two go hand in hand, according to transportation planner Aaron Wilson.

“There are a lot of questions about how we’re growing as a region, and you can’t separate transportation from the growth decisions we make,” Wilson said. “If we can grow in a more efficient and compact way, the transportation system has very distinct advantages and efficiencies that we wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise. “

Growth policy review leads Missoula planning council to request zoning update


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