Conditional Use Interim Zoning Ordinance

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Update: 2/5/24

On May 15, 2023 the Missoula City Council held a public hearing on, and approved, an ordinance to extend the Conditional Use Interim Urgency Ordinance for another 12 months. No changes to the original interim ordinance were proposed or adopted. Those same proposed changes are now being reviewed for permanent adoption, and public comment is being requested. Please note the new public hearing dates in the right hand column under Key Dates.

Proposed amendments to the Conditional Use section will be included with the 2nd Round of Near-Term code amendments proposed for Title 20 (City Zoning Code) and will go before the Planning Board and City Council at the same time. Additional background on the 2nd Round of Near-Term code amendments can be found here.

What is the issue?

The City of Missoula is facing historic levels of development review, causing backlogs and delays that are directly and indirectly impacting our ability to move key priorities like residential projects forward. In light of current demand, there is an urgent need to identify and simplify regulations and processes that have an immediate impact on our ability to operate and help us to move forward doing business efficiently. In order to do this, the City's goal is to provide a more effective delivery of City services by allowing a more streamlined review of certain types of uses, thereby freeing up staff time to review and approve the housing and support services necessary to support a safe and healthy community.

The zoning code includes three use designations: permitted by right, unpermitted (aka prohibited), and conditional. Conditional uses require case-by-case review in order to determine whether they will be compatible with surrounding uses and development patterns. Since the conditional use process is not subject to state mandated timelines and are discretionary reviews, CPDI staff is focusing on amendments to these use types in order to alleviate the high levels of development review being experienced.

What is being proposed?

Community Planning, Development and Innovation (CPDI) is proposing an interim urgency ordinance (in accordance with MCA 76-2-306) that will shift a number of the existing conditional uses throughout the various zoning districts to permitted by right. This interim urgency ordinance will help to provide a more effective delivery of City services, consistent with the City’s mission, and supports the overall public health, safety, and welfare of our growing community. By reducing the number of uses required to go through the conditional use process we will be removing around 3 months of work for each request from the development review process, allowing staff to work on other projects.

Montana Code Annotated (MCA) 76-2-301 states that a municipality may regulate and restrict the use of land for trade, industry, residence, or other purposes for the purpose of promoting health, safety, morals, or the general welfare of the community.

Of the 47 existing conditional uses more than half will be either permitted in every district they are listed in or will be permitted in some of the districts they are listed in. Proposed amendments will result in:

13 uses remaining conditional and unchanged;

21 uses changing to permitted in each district the use is currently conditional;

And 13 uses with some districts remaining conditional and other districts changing to permitted.

Adopting a conditional use interim ordinance allows us to act now to ensure we continue to meet the needs of development and support the creation of new homes and businesses despite historic levels of development review. The interim urgency ordinance provides an interim solution while the City studies and contemplates broader amendments to the approach for conditional use and project development review process efficiencies through the code reform project.

For additional background please reference the documents listed at the right which include a Summary of Proposed changes, a referral/staff report, as well as a draft ordinance. Please provide your input regarding the proposed changes in the Public Comment section below. Comments will be taken up to and during the City Council public hearing on November 28, 2022.

Update: 2/5/24

On May 15, 2023 the Missoula City Council held a public hearing on, and approved, an ordinance to extend the Conditional Use Interim Urgency Ordinance for another 12 months. No changes to the original interim ordinance were proposed or adopted. Those same proposed changes are now being reviewed for permanent adoption, and public comment is being requested. Please note the new public hearing dates in the right hand column under Key Dates.

Proposed amendments to the Conditional Use section will be included with the 2nd Round of Near-Term code amendments proposed for Title 20 (City Zoning Code) and will go before the Planning Board and City Council at the same time. Additional background on the 2nd Round of Near-Term code amendments can be found here.

What is the issue?

The City of Missoula is facing historic levels of development review, causing backlogs and delays that are directly and indirectly impacting our ability to move key priorities like residential projects forward. In light of current demand, there is an urgent need to identify and simplify regulations and processes that have an immediate impact on our ability to operate and help us to move forward doing business efficiently. In order to do this, the City's goal is to provide a more effective delivery of City services by allowing a more streamlined review of certain types of uses, thereby freeing up staff time to review and approve the housing and support services necessary to support a safe and healthy community.

The zoning code includes three use designations: permitted by right, unpermitted (aka prohibited), and conditional. Conditional uses require case-by-case review in order to determine whether they will be compatible with surrounding uses and development patterns. Since the conditional use process is not subject to state mandated timelines and are discretionary reviews, CPDI staff is focusing on amendments to these use types in order to alleviate the high levels of development review being experienced.

What is being proposed?

Community Planning, Development and Innovation (CPDI) is proposing an interim urgency ordinance (in accordance with MCA 76-2-306) that will shift a number of the existing conditional uses throughout the various zoning districts to permitted by right. This interim urgency ordinance will help to provide a more effective delivery of City services, consistent with the City’s mission, and supports the overall public health, safety, and welfare of our growing community. By reducing the number of uses required to go through the conditional use process we will be removing around 3 months of work for each request from the development review process, allowing staff to work on other projects.

Montana Code Annotated (MCA) 76-2-301 states that a municipality may regulate and restrict the use of land for trade, industry, residence, or other purposes for the purpose of promoting health, safety, morals, or the general welfare of the community.

Of the 47 existing conditional uses more than half will be either permitted in every district they are listed in or will be permitted in some of the districts they are listed in. Proposed amendments will result in:

13 uses remaining conditional and unchanged;

21 uses changing to permitted in each district the use is currently conditional;

And 13 uses with some districts remaining conditional and other districts changing to permitted.

Adopting a conditional use interim ordinance allows us to act now to ensure we continue to meet the needs of development and support the creation of new homes and businesses despite historic levels of development review. The interim urgency ordinance provides an interim solution while the City studies and contemplates broader amendments to the approach for conditional use and project development review process efficiencies through the code reform project.

For additional background please reference the documents listed at the right which include a Summary of Proposed changes, a referral/staff report, as well as a draft ordinance. Please provide your input regarding the proposed changes in the Public Comment section below. Comments will be taken up to and during the City Council public hearing on November 28, 2022.

Public Comment

Use this space to provide your comments. Comments received by 2/26/24 will be provided to the Planning Board prior to staff presenting the amendments to them on 2/27/24. Comments received between 3/6/24 and 3/22/24 will be provided to council members prior to a final hearing on these changes on 3/25/24.

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Please extend the interim zoning ordinance. Mountain Home Montana has recently purchased a building at 4720 23rd Ave, the old Hillside manor building. Our goal with this space is to open and provide shelter beds for approximately 35 families, with a focus on birthing or parenting mothers. Additionally, we hope to open a daycare center for children between the ages of 6 months to 4 years of age. These services were identified by our clients, staff, and the Missoula community as an acute need. The interim zoning ordinance will allow us to more flexibly provide comprehensive support for our clients in this Hillside space: which in turn helps those individuals build a safe and stable home in the greater Missoula community.

BethMountainHome 9 months ago

I agree with others that the current rules are in effect for a reason. Everyone seems to be in a frenzy to react to the lack of housing in Missoula. It's a long term problem that isn't going to be solved by fast-tracking proposals. As someone who is about to be highly impacted by a new major subdivision I want city staff to have time to thoroughly review the proposal, not just rubber-stamp it. The city council seems to alway allow variances which are in place for a reason. Slow down Missoula!

Achay 10 months ago

I would advocate for reconsideration of density & commercial zoning in areas with close proximity to downtown - the university district should be allowed to have smaller lots, higher density apartments & row houses, additional small businesses, etc. It's a joke to call it a "historic" district when people whom the land was stolen from still live in our community today. Either give it back, or let it become what Missoula needs - higher density development near the urban core. Don't fast-track projects on the outskirts of town and cause more sprawl.

Henry 11 months ago

I believe the current rules are in effect for a reason. I'm not against a review of rules to streamline and make more efficient the process for folks but if they staff is overwhelmed maybe we need more staff to conduct the business at hand in the meantime. Thanks.

missoulianwest about 1 year ago

Hi there. Thank you for taking our comments. I support this urgency ordinance especially if it supports the city of Missoula staff as well as local businesses. I am currently the Managing Director of Westside Theater, a nonprofit performance and studio space in the Westside neighborhood.

We are in the process of applying for a MT state Nonprofit Venue Beer & Wine License, which is extremely delayed due to the city's backlog review process and the required conditional use approval we need (our last step in gaining the license). With this delay, adds quite a bit more time, work and finances to maintain a part of our operations that will be simplified once our license is granted.

We as a nonprofit arts organization constantly struggle to maintain a business, create relevant artistic work for and by the community with minimal staff and financial resources. For better or worse, a limited beer/wine nonprofit venue license is an integral revenue stream for our dance company and subsequent brick and mortar home base. We are here to serve the arts community and Missoula as a whole.

Thank you for continually trying to make processes more efficient and beneficial for all.

Westside over 1 year ago

I do not support this. The process was established for a reason. Changing the rules now will be fair to past participants and the results of cutting corners will not be fully realized until it is too late to correct. Fast tracking construction is not an emergency that meets MCA 76-2-306.

KNM over 1 year ago

There are good reasons certain uses are considered conditional. Primarily, such uses are deemed a significant enough deviation from the permitted uses that additional review is warranted. As such there are good reasons for additional review. An important one is that adjacent property owners are notified and can provide on-the-ground information to staff and council regarding a proposal that would otherwise not be considered. Another is that staff can review impacts to a neighborhood associated with a host of potential factors including traffic, noise, lighting, pedestrian circulation, hours of operation, and parking. Last, having certain projects go through conditional use review allows staff and council the flexibility to work with the applicant and neighborhood to craft solutions that are sensitive to the specifics of a given situation. Changing "C" to "P" doesn't address any of these items. A staffing shortage doesn't obviate the need for this kind of review -- it negligently turns a blind eye to these issues and/or kicks the responsibility of dealing with them down to neighbors with no professional and/or political mediation. Specifically, I recommend retaining conditional use status for Residential, Public/Civic, and Commercial designations in table 20.05-1.

JohnD over 1 year ago

Hey MCC could you please allow a "Tavern or Nightclub" to be a permitted use in C1 and M1R zones. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Algonzal3z over 1 year ago

As a former small business owner, I found it frustrating when it seemed easier for outsiders to open businesses than for locals. I'd like the council to consider ways to make it easier for local entrepreneurs to get their business started and successful. One way would be to look at the beer/wine licensing/zoning issue and make reasonable, fair decisions that don't discourage job creation.

cobr over 1 year ago

Removed by moderator.

AnnieGraham over 1 year ago

Our small local owned business has been asked to complete the special exception process to obtain a city beer and wine license. When I initially applied for the license, I stated that our space was an “Event space with beer, wine and limited food service” but I was told that the only available classification for us was “Tavern/Nightclub” and that the use was not permitted in our location. Prior to our use, the space was a restaurant that served beer and wine. Our current zoning would also permit us to bring caterers in to serve beer and wine. But, because there is no classification between “restaurant” and “tavern/nightclub”, we need to go through a six month to a year long process in order to hold our own beer and wine license. This will make it very difficult (if not impossible) for us to keep the lights on for the next year. I hope that you can take my story into consideration (and I know that there are other locally owned businesses that are in the same exact boat as us) and make “Tavern/Nightclub” a permitted use in C1 and M1R zones. Or, create an alternative designation for spaces like ours that would be more accurate to our intended purpose. Thank you!

AnnieGraham over 1 year ago

Hey MCC could you please allow a "Tavern or Nightclub" to be a permitted use in C1 and M1R zones so we can get the local shoes going again and take some of Nick Chipotle's monopoly away please and thanks

drumnjamn over 1 year ago

I am curious where public engagement happens per project if the Conditional Use Interim Zoning Ordinance. And, does the interim ordinance lessen community input in any way? Thank you.

Christine Littig she/her over 1 year ago

I would make "Tavern or Nightclub" Conditional uses permitted in C1and M1R zones as these are both intensive commercial and industrial zones. The Zoning department, in my view, has an absurd and overly restrictive interpretation of where alcohol can be consumed. A restaurant can serve wine and beer in these zones but a meeting house or entertainment or theater venue cannot without being labelled a "Tavern or Nightclub," which they are not. A catering company can serve beer and wine in these locations but the business operating on the parcel cannot. It is just ridiculous and not at all following Montana alcohol laws. It is an anti business interpretation in Zoning harming businesses in Missoula. Hard Liquor licenses which allow gambling in a bar or casino are not the same type of use as a meeting house or entertainment or theater venue. I think this should be addressed in this change as it is hurting existing businesses, right now, in Missoula.

DVGArchitects over 1 year ago
Page last updated: 05 Feb 2024, 09:54 AM