The new Economic Development District created by Missoula County near the Wye last winter has landed one of its first rezone requests ahead of a potential industrial development.
On Tuesday night, the Missoula Consolidated Planning Board approved a request from Jack Long Enterprises LLC to rezone around 6 acres of ground from general commercial to light industrial.
The request easily passed by the board and will now move on to county officials for final approval.
“This proposal is really to catch up with the industrial center land-use element,” said county planner Matt Heimel. “One of the primary goals of that industrial center land use is to contribute to the county’s economic base by providing places where people work, create, build, store, and distribute goods and services.”
The property, located off Alta Drive, sits within the boundaries of the Economic Development District created last November by Missoula County. The district was the county’s first since establishing a similar one at the Missoula Development Park, followed shortly after by the Bonner West Log Yard.
Both districts have been highly successful, created dozens of new businesses and hundreds of jobs. A pending study on the new district near the Wye will explore its infrastructure needs, and tax increment from new development could help fuel the improvements.
“Any new development that happens on these parcels will contribute to increment for the Wye area district out there,” said Jamie Erbacher, representing the developers. “Our client does have interest in occupying the buildings on lots three and four, and has potentially opportunity for development on the other (four) lots.”
Development interest is high in Missoula, and real estate officials have said that industrial space is lacking. The lack of designated industrial space has emerged as a potential barrier to economic growth and job creation, officials have said.
But a number of new projects have been proposed for the Wye, which appears to have an industrial footprint in its future. Earlier this month, the planning board also approved an eight-lot industrial subdivision planned on 20 acres south of the Wye – not far from the project on Alta Drive.
North of the Wye off Highway 93, the county also approved a new live-work project that will include a blend of industrial garages and residential apartments.
“Missoula County is working on its code update. As part of that, there’s an intention for the county to rezone those areas within the map boundary,” said Erbacher. “This area of the Wye would be rezoned eventually to match the land-use designation within the map for industrial center.”