By Martin Kidston/MISSOULA CURRENT
With growth pressure mounting but infrastructure lacking, the city of Missoula last year selected an engineering firm to create a master plan guiding development in a newly created taxing district stretching from North Reserve to Scott Street.
Nearly a year later, work resulting from that effort has grown to include talk of a new interchange at Coal Mine Road off Interstate 90, and ways to blend the district’s eclectic mix of uses, from residential to heavy industrial.
“We’re working on a couple of different sub areas within that district, reflecting the way trends are heading there,” said Jeremy Keene with WGM Group. “This will eventually become an amendment to the growth policy.”
WGM and the Missoula Redevelopment Agency will host a second public workshop next week as they continue to draft plans for the area. The list of considerations runs as wide as the district itself, ranging from streets and infrastructure to a style of development.
Last year, MRA moved to create a guiding document for the area, responding to increased interest among businesses eager to develop the area. Consumer Direct is already building a $21 million building on the district’s west end, and Costco is reportedly looking to build nearby.
On the district’s east end, Edgell Building has plans for an entry-level housing project off Scott Street. The project’s first phase includes 11 single-family homes and 17 townhomes, while phase 2 includes 13 single-family homes and 12 additional townhomes.
But sitting to the west lies one of the city’s largest heavy industrial zones. The area lacks a suitable east-west connection and truck traffic can be problematic for both residential and commercial areas.
“You get a lot of heavy mixing with the trucks and commercial and residential traffic,” Keene said. “The cemetery road is the only east-west connection, and the right of way is narrow at only 40 feet. We’re trying to figure out where to place roads in the future.”
To alleviate the challenge, Keene said a new Interstate 90 interchange could be considered at Coal Mine Road, which serves the landfill to the north. Keene said the solution may be driven by development.
“It may not be possible to do that before more development happens,” Keene said of a future street network. “We’ll have a phasing plan, showing how different areas can develop over time, and how the road infrastructure would support it.”
Those behind the early planning document envision buffers to soften the transition from one area to the next. The upcoming workshop looks to refine the ideas and create a draft master plan. A final master plan is expected in June for consideration by the City Council.
“This is a long-range plan,” Keene said. “We’re looking 20 years out. If we plan well, we’ll be able to preserve some of the corridors and find opportunities for the future.”
The public workshop is scheduled for Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m. At Ruby’s Inn, located at 4825 N. Reserve Street.