[MissoulaGov] Committee Update 10-25-06

Bob Jaffe bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us
Thu Oct 26 07:24:16 MDT 2006

Short on time today so this will be brief.

In conservation we discussed the wildlife feeding ordinance. The main issues
were touching up the definition of wildlife. In particular, how birds fit
in. We had some FWP guys explain why its bad to feed ducks. There was also
some discussion about how this will be enforced. There was concern that we
were adding another task to the overburdened Animal Control Officers. The
reason this ordinance was developed was because the animal control people,
including the FWP, requested it. The wording of the current state law makes
it unenforceable in the city limits. They wanted to have some tool in the
box to use when dealing with problems in the city. It passed out of
committee and will be considered at the next council meeting.

We had a short PAZ meeting because staff had asked that we hold one of the
items an extra week and we wanted to wait for everyone to be there to
discuss the growth policy. We did hear an update from the Mayor on how
horrible I-154 is. We intend to pass a resolution stating our opposition to
it. In a nut shell, the proponents push this as protecting private property
rights. They say that if the government makes a rule that devalues your land
they have to pay you for it. The problem is that it works both ways. If your
neighbor on University Avenue wants to start up a hog farm and the
government says no, we are going to have to pay them for the lost proceeds
of their hog farm. All planning and zoning go away if this initiative

The growth policy discussion was held up over a procedural technicality. We
first started considering the planning board's version of the document. Some
amendments were offered and voted on over the period of a few meetings. Then
a motion was made to accept the planning board's version. An argument ensued
over whether the earlier amendments were in order since no main motion had
ever been made. Heidi, the chair of the committee ruled that they were out
of order. Dick Haines appealed that decision. So according to our rules, the
discussion has to end and we need to have an A&F meeting to consider the
appeal. Both Dick and Stacy, the one who made the main motion, and the chair
of A&F were absent yesterday. The plan is to hold an A&F meeting to settle
the procedural question and then have an afternoon PAZ meeting to finish the
growth policy.

The way the current growth policy is written, and the current attitude
council takes towards it, make the thing pretty inconsequential. State law
greatly reduces the importance of what's in there to "suggestions that
should be considered." The document is written in such general terms that it
does not really give any specific guidance. The land use maps in it have not
been updated in any substantial way since the '70s. The amendments we are
arguing over have to do with including definitions of Inclusionary Zoning
and Transfer of Development Rights. The inclusion or omission of those items
in a list that defines itself as being a partial list of possible tools to
be used is of minimal consequence. So it's a lot of fuss over two pretty
much irrelevant clauses in what has become an irrelevant document.

I would love to see us create a meaningful growth policy that actually
defines a policy for growth. But at this point the "fear of growth" camp
still holds enough political power to stall any meaningful efforts at a
proactive approach. Take for example the Nicholson, Hendrickson, and Wilkins
attempt to gain an Attorney General opinion against the council that is
mentioned in today's paper. The townhouse ordinance is really not something
we need to be afraid of. Pretty much everything you can do with it you can
already do without it. It just makes it easier for the occupant to own their
home. The opponents paint a terrible picture of doom and gloom. I had a
constituent call to ask me to vote against it because Greenough park and the
Oval needed to be saved from being covered with a bunch of townhomes.
Complete irrational fear. But when fear fails to win over the majority there
is always the last effort of declaring the process illegal. We'll see what
the AG thinks.

Thanks for your interest,

Bob Jaffe

Missoula City Council, Ward 3

bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us


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