Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) A small subdivision near Reserve Street was praised by members of the planning board for its proposed infill and provision of housing near existing city services, and it's now pending the approval of the Missoula City Council.

Orchard Grove, proposed by two different families, includes 24 residential lots in a combination of single-family and townhomes on roughly three acres. The project is located just west of Reserve Street near Larking Wood Drive.

“There are three existing residential duplex structures on site that will be converted into townhouse units,” said city planner Lauren Stevens. “Three other existing residential structures are proposed to be removed.”

The Consolidated Planning Board has already recommended project approval and annexation into the city, per the applicant's request.

As proposed, Grove Street and Larkinwood Drive would see improvements while a new street dubbed Magnolia Drive would feed a portion of the project. The street would favor cyclists in its design but would also accommodate vehicles.

Joe Dehnert, a project representative with IMEG, described the private road's design as a “Woonerf” street.

“There's a few design elements that are really hallmarks of the Woonerf street type, and those are textured or scored pavement and a modulating street design that's highlighted by alternating parking spaces,” Dehnert said. “The purpose of the roadway design is to create that living street type where all modes of travel are planned for simultaneous use."

While several existing housing structures are planned for removal to accommodate redevelopment, Stevens said residents will be given first rights to purchase property within the project.

“One has already indicated their plans to purchase from a house that will be demolished to a unit in the third townhouse building,” said Stevens. “The applicants will provide ample transition time for households that have to move off site, and they have been informed of the project.”

Stevens added that members of the planning board praised the project for its infill and its higher density, which could increase affordability, she said.

The project's renovation of several existing structures was also lauded for its waste reduction.

“This was another aspect of discussion that came up,” said Dehnert. “This repurposing is something we don't see very often with major subdivisions in the city. We're pretty excited to see that as an aspect of the project.”

The City Council will continue its public hearing on the project this Wednesday and consider approval next week.