While a request to rezone a portion of Lower Grant Creek for more housing hasn’t yet gone before the planning board, members of the neighborhood are already working to fend off the proposal for the second time.
The Missoula City Council on Monday set a public hearing for Grant Creek Village, which goes before the planning board this week. It would then return to the City Council for further input and consideration next month.
But the Friends of Grant Creek on Monday attempted to postpone that hearing, saying they hadn’t had time to fully digest a new traffic report regarding the project.
“A new traffic report was tendered at the request of city engineering that criticized the original traffic report,” said RT Cox, president of the Friends of Grant Creek. “Traffic is a very important item and a great concern. This rezone would essentially double the population of Grant Creek.”
The project, proposed by KJA Development, could test the City Council’s sincerity when it calls for more density in housing projects. Last week, members of the council lamented the lack of density in a housing project off Greenough Drive in the Rattlesnake neighborhood.
The Grant Creek project is proposed on 44 acres off Interstate 90 that once served as a gravel quarry. The area includes several apartments, hotels and restaurants, and is located near the Reserve Street interchange.
This time, like last time, traffic concerns have become an issue of opposition.
“We’re asking that this matter be rescheduled to give our expert, and the city engineer and the public, and the Friends of Grant Creek and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, an opportunity to go through this new traffic report and see if it a does a better job addressing the traffic issues,” Cox said.
The council agreed to stick with its original hearing schedule and set a series of public hearings. Jordan Hess, chair of the Land Use and Planning Committee, said the project has no pressing deadline and could be held in committee for as long as needed.
“We’ve had a practice of holding public hearings open for a long as needed,” he said. “I’m inclined, since much the neighborhood is aware of the schedule, to open the public hearing and continue it for as long as required. I think that will meet the intent of Friends of Grant Creek.”
In September 2020, the City Council on a 5-7 vote denied KJA Development’s rezone request for a similar project on the same property. At the time, the developer looked to increase the project’s density from 495 housing units to 1,185.
The developer is still looking to increase the project’s density given its location, but this time KJA has capped the proposed number of units at 700. It would include 622 units with one, two and three bedrooms, along with 78 smaller units, according to planning documents.
The Friends of Grant Creek in 2020 mustered a significant lobby and became the first neighborhood in recent memory to successfully kill a rezone request. Other neighborhoods around the city also have opposed various projects, often citing traffic and safety as a concern.
Still, the City Council approved those projects regardless.