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Missoula City Council to hear first “major” city subdivision since 2008

If approved by the city, the 32-lot Cowboy Flats Subdivision would be built in this vacant field, marking the city’s first major subdivision since 2008. (Google Earth)

Members of the Missoula City Council on Wednesday heard their first major subdivision proposal since 2008, a 32-lot project planned for a vacant field between Dore Lane and Paxson Street.

The proposed development, dubbed the Cowboy Flats Subdivision, consists entirely of single family homes and is set for a public hearing on Nov. 6.

The developers, Dore Lane LLC, are seeking a single variance to city regulations that prohibit “short courts.” The project includes six short courts off 38th Street to allow access to the subdivision’s outlying lots.

“The regulations allow up to six units per short court, and we’re doing three that have four units and three that have three units,” said Dale McCormick with PCI Consultants. “We’ve worked with Police Chief (Mike Brady) and (Fire Marshal) Gordy Hughes from the beginning of this project. We wanted to make sure we got it right, and I think we did.”

At the height of the city’s subdivision boom last decade, the use of short courts fell out of favor. However, amendments offered in 2010 allowed for variances, particularly when no other street connections are possible.

The 5-acre property is currently surrounded on three sides by existing homes.

“With this particular property, there’s been numerous proposals made over time,” said Anita McNamara with Development Services. “Everything is developed around it, which makes it hard to develop at density. The use of the short courts is the only tool that allows for that to occur.”

As proposed, the subdivision would include 32 lots ranging in size from 5,400 to 7,590 square feet, meeting the area’s zoning regulations. The homes will be single family units.

McNamara said the city’s growth policy recommends a “residential medium” land-use designation of three to 11 units per acre. The project would include a housing density of roughly six units per acre and extend 38th Street, connecting Paxson Street and Dore Lane to complete the area’s street grid.

“This is the first major subdivision since 2008,” said Ward 4 council member John DiBari. “Very interesting.”

The Land Use and Planning Committee offered no recommendation at Wednesday’s meeting.