Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) The City of Missoula this week rolled out the second round of proposed zoning amendments, including several intended to streamline certain housing types and vertical mixed-use construction.

The city in 2022 launched it's code reform effort and released its first round of amendments last fell. The entire project will take time to complete but, when finished, it will align the city's zoning codes with its growth policy and set the stage for future growth.

“All together, we're making a process that enables housing to be built and address needs around development in Missoula,” said city planner Ben Brewer. “This round of code amendments has shifted its full focus to what the city has been developing over the last year.”

Brewer said the first round included 61 amendments to zoning code in response to seven bills adopted by the Montana Legislature. It also included 34 amendments to subdivision regulations to comply with five state bills.

The second round will have a similar number of changes, including those targeted at affordable housing, incentives for vertical mixed-use construction and accessory dwelling units.

On the housing front, city planner Jen Gress said the changes will expand the city's affordable housing option, allowing it to be used in all business and commercial districts.

“It also proposes allowing the density bonus to be used for any residential building type creating three or more units,” said Gress. “It also clarifies the existing parking reduction.”

The amendments also look to incentivize vertical mixed-use construction, typically that with residential living on top and retail on the ground floor. The building type is rarely used, Gress said, due to challenges in meeting zoning requirements, and various parking and landscaping requirements.

As proposed, amendment changes would simplify the measurement used to determine the amount of commercial space required in a project. It also allows the applicant to waive the parking requirement for the non-residential portion of the project. Site landscaping requirements may also be waived.

Changes to the city's guidelines on accessory dwelling units are also on the table. As proposed, Gress said they would increase the minimum ADU size from 600 square feet to 1,000 square feet and increases height restrictions from 22 feet to the maximum height of the zoning district.

“These changes will allow more flexibility when building ADUs and help increase housing opportunities,” said Gress.