In what proved to be a marathon day in development issues, the Missoula City Council’s Land Use and Planning Committee capped the afternoon by approving a resolution of intent to annex a proposed subdivision off Mullan Road into the city limits.
The committee heard more than 5 hours of testimony on four separate planning issues on Wednesday before granting the developer’s request to have the 72-acre property brought into the city if it’s approved in the weeks ahead.
The request will go before the full City Council in September on what’s shaping up to be another marathon day that could include five major subdivision and land use hearings. That could prompt the council to consider the issues over the course of two days, not one.
Boil it down and activity on the housing front in Missoula is beginning to creep forward.
“We have been understaffed and moving projects forward as quickly as we can,” said Mary McRae, Senior planner with Development Services “The subdivisions, they have statutory deadlines and we don’t have control when they’re deemed sufficient, how many days out, and trying to combine very complicated projects that include annexation, zoning upon annexation, rezone and subdivision.”
Wednesday’s annexation request involved Heron’s Landing, a proposed 347-lot subdivision planned off Mullan Road. It’s one of several projects moving though the hearing process and it’s eyed for an area identified for growth and development as the city expands to the west.
The Consolidated Planning Board approved the subdivision request and rezone earlier in the week. If the city approves annexation, the developers would have to meet a number of conditions, such as connecting to city water and sewer and petitioning into the Missoula Urban Transportation District.
Nick Kaufman of WGM group said that wouldn’t be an issue.
“The city has invested in the extension of sewer and water out there and in 2002, it adopted the grid system road pattern,” he said. “With our BUILD grant, we’ve got community investment in the transportation infrastructure. The urban transportation district needs to be part of this growth, and this is the most efficient time to address it.”
The Heron’s Landing project is proposed by Teton Land & Development Group for 72 acres north of Mullan Road and south of the 44 Ranch subdivision. It would be served by George Elmer and Chuck Wagon drives, and it sits within the boundaries of the Mullan BUILD project.
The BUILD project involves a $13 million federal grant that will help lay the infrastructure needed to serve urban-style growth and development in the Mullan area. It also involves a separate but parallel land use plan, which is intended to help guide that future growth.
The planning board on Tuesday night hinted at several other pending subdivisions in the area, and the Missoula City Council is already considering a range of other development proposals.
Those include a request to rezone 44 acres at the base of Grant Creek for a multi-family housing project, and a request to rezoning property off Mullan Road for the proposed Mullan Crossing project.
Other proposals include a rezone for West Broadway and S. Third Street West. Given the size of several projects and the public comment they may generate, the City Council may look to stagger various hearings when they come to a head in mid-September.
The council has been holding public hearings open for a week or more to allow for comment, given the pandemic.
“We have final consideration after public hearings, and I’m not sure that’s the best approach,” said City Council president Bryan von Lossberg. “If we have something open for several weeks, we might want to take action on that before opening public hearings on other items.”