City gives initial nod to Hellgate Village subdivision; zoning change still pending

The Hellgate Village subdivision is planned for eight acres off Flynn Lane. The City Council will decide on Oct. 7 whether to change its growth policy and rezone the larger 57 acres for housing so that it matches the surrounding neighborhoods. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file photo)

Members of the City Council on Wednesday granted initial approval for a minor subdivision off Flynn Lane, one that’s tied to a zoning request for the larger parcel of land surrounding it.

While the Land Use and Planning Committee approved the Hellgate Village minor subdivision on a unanimous vote, council members stated that it’s separate from the zoning request, which is still pending a final public hearing next month.

That decision could hold implications for the future of Hellgate Village and the price of housing planned within it. It could also test the city’s sincerity in backing housing projects near existing public services.

“We can go forward with the subdivision, but we still can’t go forward with our development plans without the growth policy amendment and without the change in zoning,” Nick Kaufman, a land use planner with WGM Group, said after the hearing.

As part of the subdivision’s approval, the committee granted several variances, most of them related to road widths. While the variances were approved, they generated larger conversations about future needs and the cost of housing.

If built, the subdivision would include the extension of Mary Jane Boulevard and Galway Avenue. Mary Jane will serve as a collector street and include an 80-foot right of way. Galway is a neighborhood street and would include a 67-foot right of way.

“I see this area potentially supporting transit, and I think we need to look beyond what’s there right now,” said council member Mirtha Becera. “To think that we might have transit, why not save that extra right of way for something like that? I would hate for us not to look way into the future.”

Hellgate Village would be built at a density similar to the neighboring Peasant View and Hellgate Meadows subdivisions, pictured. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file photo)

The road widths and right of way matches surrounding streets, including those in Pleasant View. Mary McRea of Development Services said an 80-foot right of way could accommodate a bus pullout.

“It wouldn’t preclude the installation of one,” she said.

The parcel approved for Hellgate Village sits on eight acres just south of the Pleasant View subdivision and west of Hellgate Meadows. The lots would be broken into five parcels ranging in size from .18 acres to 2.97 acres.

If developed, it would accommodate between 84 and 87 homes. But that’s pending the City Council’s decision on whether to update Missoula growth policy and approve the developer’s request to rezone the property.

“We want to provide contemporary housing for our community, both in rental and owner occupied,” said Kaufman. “We want to meet our housing demand. But the Hellgate Meadows zoning is Title 19 zoning, and it’s split zoning, so over the whole 57 acres, it’s very limiting in terms of what we can do.”

The City Council will consider the zoning request and changes to the growth policy on Oct. 7.