What is a zoning district?

    Zoning districts regulate what uses are permitted in a particular area. They also regulate the form of development including setbacks, maximum heights, and landscaping. Zoning districts vary across town. For example, some areas like the Development Park are suited for industrial uses whereas other areas of town like the South Hills are generally more suited for residential development. To find out what zoning district applies to your property, visit “What’s My Zoning?” and look up your address.

    What is a rezoning?

    A rezoning changes the zoning district for a property or area. When a rezoning request is approved, the zoning map is amended to change the zoning district boundaries. Rezoning applications require a public hearing and must be approved by Planning Board and City Council. Zoning districts are applied based on the Growth Policy land use designation. The land use designation portrays the broader goals of the area and contains related zoning districts. A land owner can only request zoning districts that relate to the land use designation.

    What does Planning Board and City Council consider in their decision to approve or deny a rezoning request?

    Rezoning applications may be approved by Planning Board and City Council only when they determine that the applicable review criteria in Title 20, Section 20.85.040.G have been satisfied. The review criteria are as follows: 

    1. Whether the proposed zoning amendment is consistent with MCA § 76-2-304:
      1. Whether the zoning is made in accordance with a growth policy;
      2. Whether the zoning is designed to secure safety from fire and other dangers;
      3. Whether the zoning is designed to promote public health, public safety, and the general welfare; 
      4. Whether the zoning is designed to facilitate the adequate provision of transportation, water, sewerage, schools, parks, and other public requirements;
      5. Whether the zoning considers the reasonable provision of adequate light and air;
      6. Whether the zoning considers the effect on motorized and nonmotorized transportation systems;
      7. Whether the zoning considers the promotion of compatible urban growth;
      8. Whether the zoning considers the character of the district and its peculiar suitability for particular uses; and
      9. Whether the zoning conserves the value of buildings and encourages the most appropriate use of land throughout the jurisdictional area.
    2. Whether the proposed zoning amendment corrects an error or inconsistency in the zoning ordinance or meets the challenge of a changing condition;
    3. Whether the proposed zoning amendment is in the best interests of the city as a whole.

    What does City Staff consider in making a recommendation for approval or denial of a rezoning request?

    City Staff make a recommendation based on the findings of fact and conclusions of law in the staff report. Findings of fact are pulled from the rezoning application packet, documentation of access to infrastructure and services, the context of the surrounding neighborhood, as well as local, state, and federal regulations. The conclusions of law use the findings of fact to address whether the proposed rezoning meets the review criteria of Title 20, Section 20.85.040.G. If the conclusions of law state all of the applicable criteria have been satisfied, then City Staff recommend approval of the rezoning.

    Can City Council condition approval of a rezoning request?

    Montana State Law prohibits conditioning the approval of a request to rezone from one standard zoning district in the City to another standard zoning district. City adopted standard zoning districts in the Title 20 Zoning Ordinance must have the same standards for all locations where that zoning occurs. All properties within the same zoning district must be treated equally and abide by the same regulations. Conditioning a rezoning would place more stringent requirements on one property owner than other property owners with land of the same zoning designation. Per State Law, City standard zoning districts must apply equally to all property with the same zoning designation. 


    A rezoning request from a city standard zoning district to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) Zoning may be conditioned by City Council as the PUD Zoning is for a specific site and does not exist elsewhere in the city. 

    What is a protest petition for a rezoning?

    State Law provides for property owners in close proximity to an area proposed for rezone to protest a rezoning. When a valid protest petition has been submitted, approval of a rezoning requires a two-thirds majority vote of those City Council members present and voting. In order to protest a rezoning, you must be a property owner of a parcel subject to the rezoning or a property owner of a parcel within 150 feet of the parcel to be rezoned. In order for the protest to be valid, the protest petition must be signed by 25% of the property owners specified above. The petition must be submitted to the zoning officer or on the public record before the City Council’s vote. We request the petition be sent to the case planner listed on the Engage Missoula page for a particular project. The case planner will ensure the petition is sent to the Zoning Officer and City Council. The petition must be submitted to allow sufficient time for the City Clerk to determine the validity of the petition. We ask that the petition be sent to the case planner at least one week prior to the City Council public hearing.

    How can I get involved, find out more or provide feedback on private development applications?

    You can:

    • Read the plans and documents setting out and explaining the proposal (see links provided in the project description box in the list of Development Projects)
    • Read through the FAQs.
    • For further clarification, contact the Planning Staff listed on the development application project description.
    • View the project calendar and associated documents and materials on EScribe (see Important Links).

    How can I submit public comment on a specific project?

    You can:

    • Enter a formal comment in the space available in the project description box (you must be registered with Engage Missoula to do so); or
    • Email the project planner listed in the project description box; or
    • Mail written comments to Development Services, 435 Ryman St, 59802, C/O the case planner listed in the project description