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Lower Grant Creek zoning request expected to resurface in modified form

Construction on portions of the 44-acre property is already underway. A zoning request on other areas of the parcel could be sought later this year. (KPAX image)

A rezone request denied by the Missoula City Council last year could be revived in the coming months as the developers work to address some of the concerns expressed during the hearing process.

KJA Development last fall sought to rezone around 44 acres in Lower Grant Creek, eying a greater number and type of housing units on the former gravel pit off Interstate 90.

The City Council ultimately denied the rezone on a 5-7 vote, citing concerns over fire protection and access. It was the first time in recent memory that the council had denied such a request.

“That was denied by City Council, but that will be coming back,” Dave DeGrandpre with Development Services told the Consolidated Planning Board on Tuesday. “It’s still a few months out, but it will be coming back.”

The rezone was initially approved by Developer Services and the city’s Office of Housing and Community Development. The development allowed by the rezone was an opportunity to create additional housing and ensure it was equally distributed around the city, they argued.

But the Friends of Grant Creek, a powerful neighborhood lobby, opposed the rezone, citing its potential impacts on their neighborhood. The group mailed petitions to area residents opposing the rezone and urged the City Council to deny the request.

One member of the City Council who lives in Grant Creek voted against the rezone.

DeGrandpre said the request is expected to resurface in a modified form.

“We’ve been working with the developer in the very beginning stages. They have to go to the back of the line, but they’ll be coming back with a rezoning application,” said DeGrandpre. “They’re still looking at multi family.”

Current zoning allows around 494 housing units on the parcel, which is served by city services. But the developers are seeking a zoning change to permit a greater number of units.

Advocates contend those additional units are needed to address Missoula’s housing shortage. But opponents have raised questions over safety and traffic. The developer contends that independent traffic studies have shown no problems.

DeGrandpre couldn’t say when, exactly, the application to rezone would go back to the planning board and eventually the City Council, though it will likely happen this summer.

“They’re making some changes to address some of the concerns that were expressed in that process,” DeGrandpre said, naming pedestrian and bicycle safety and fire protection.”

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City Council considers controversial zoning change for lower Grant Creek

Planning Board scuttles Grant Creek housing proposal; some raise questions of equity