With approval of the Planning Board, the Missoula City Council next week will consider a request to rezone three parcels off Toole Avenue to better reflect the recommendations in the city’s growth policy.
Property owner Kelly Castleberry submitted the request earlier this year, asking the city to rezone the property from residential to community business. That would allow for a diverse number of uses, from retail and dining to housing at a greater density.
Craig Mailin, city planner, told the City Council’s Land Use and Planning Committee on Wednesday that the growth policy encourages a residential density of up to 43 units per acre. The property’s current zoning allows for just 16 units per acre.
Rezoning the property would bring it in line with the recommendations in the city’s growth policy.
“The city growth policy strongly emphasizes a focus inward approach to development,” said Mailin. “This means encouraging denser development in areas that have existing infrastructure. This location meats all of the criteria.”
The request won recommended approval from the Planning Board last month on a 6-2 vote. Toole Avenue is designated as a major collector and a mixed-use residential development sits across Milton Street from Castleberry’s property.
“The rezone complies with the goals and objectives of the growth policy and comes closer to compliance with the land-use designation of this area as neighborhood mixed use,” said Mailin. “It promotes compatible urban growth.”
The parcels are currently occupied by two houses and a four-plex, representing a total of six living units. While Castleberry said the project won’t be fully designed until the outcome of the zoning request, he plans to replace the existing structures with additional housing but at a greater density.
He offered few details at Wednesday’s hearing.
“I would like to upgrade the subject property from its semi rundown condition to a fresh, modern appearance,” he said in his application letter. “It makes sense to increase the density at the same time.”
City staff said the rezone would reflect the current use of surrounding parcels.
“There’s a real mix of some industrial uses still,” said Mary McRae of Development Services, naming a brewery and other businesses. “It’s within a quarter mile of a grocery store and a block from a rapid-service bus route. It’s close to both the social and traditional public infrastructure we traditionally look for.”
While the properties aren’t designated as historical, Emy Scherrer, the city’s historic preservation officer, said portions of the neighborhood were added to the Missoula Downtown Historic District in the early 2000s.
“It was a recent extension that they added to the existing Historic Downtown District, and that was to incorporate the railroad aspect,” she said. “It was basically put in so we have more background as to the railroad within the nomination of the district.”
Only items individually listed on the national or local register of historic places are protected. The structures on the properties don’t meet that criteria, she said.
“These are not individually listed, they’re just contributing to the historic district as a whole,” said Scherrer. “We don’t have any protections currently for historic districts, except the Fort Missoula Historic District.”