[MissoulaGov] Committee Update 8-22-07

Bob Jaffe bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us
Thu Aug 23 00:30:31 MDT 2007


This morning in conservation we approved contributing $161,000 of open space
money to purchase a conservation easement on 341 acres on the Mastel family
farm. The value of the easement is about $1,000,000. The family is donating
half the value. There is a combination of other grant monies covering the

The property is out Mullan road west of the airport in an area called grass

We also agreed to accept a small piece of property from the county at the
northernmost end of Orange street. This is the little triangle of land north
of the interstate at the base of the new trail up into the north hills. The
plan is to make a few improvements to the site so it will make a better
trail head. Mainly we want to define the entrance and exit of the parking
area so people aren't coming out of the lot onto the on ramp.

In PAZ we heard about the appointments to the advisory group that will
assist in the zoning rewrite process. The goal is to have about 25 people
on this board. There are currently about 45 applicants. The ones picked by
council will be on it and the Mayor will pick the balance from the
applicants. There was some concern voiced over the size of the group but I
recall serving on the 3rd and Russell EIS citizen advisory board back in the
days when we thought that project would be done by now. It had about that
many people. I thought it worked well. I'm not sure they listened to
anything we had to say but the meetings functioned and they pretty well kept
everyone interested through the whole process.

We finished up the request to rezone 2222 Rattlesnake drive. This is the
Housing authority property where the Poverello used to run the Joseph
Residence transitional housing. We had finished this some time ago. It went
to council. The planner in charge fell ill or something so Roger Millar was
covering with no warning or preparation. Jon Wilkins asked if a PNC could be
used on this site and Roger erroneously said no. When he was corrected it
created just enough panic and confusion to have the thing sent back to
committee. It didn't sound like there were any additional questions this
time. If you want to read a more complete description of the project refer
to the archive at missoulagov.org.

Next item was the limited scope update of the Northside Westside plan. I am
quite certain that I will say something in this next paragraph that will
provide material for Mr. Hendrickson's next Monday night sermon.

The 2000 NS/WS plan called for 5 year updates. An update of the plan was
carried out this last year. It mostly covered housecleaning items like
updating lists of goals where some of those items had been completed. There
was also new survey information collected that was of value. The problems go
back to two contentious events. The first is the lawsuit over the
Safeway/St. Pat's project; the second is the Road Diet.

An organization called Citizens for a Livable Missoula (CALM) sued the City
claiming that the rezoning for the SafePats project did not substantially
comply with the neighborhood plan. After a couple of years of litigation
the courts finally agreed with the city that the numerous changes they made
to the project to comply with the plan did in fact constitute substantial
compliance. If I remember right, individual members of council were named
in the suit. Needless to say this is a very sensitive topic for a lot of
people and I'm sure I will hear from most of them. The state has determined
that comp plans are to be guides that are referred to in zoning changes.
They are not regulatory documents in and of themselves. But the CALM lawsuit
is evidence that uppity citizens can be a major thorn in the side of
progress when they allege that the neighborhood plans approved by council
are not being followed. It's not something anyone wants to have to fight
about in court again.

So my personal impression is that planning is a dirty word for a lot of
folks. If you create a plan, someone may actually have an expectation in the
future that you will follow it. Who needs that type of restriction.

The next issue is the road diet. The neighborhood plan mentions the need for
improved pedestrian crossing on Broadway. The ultimate solution MDT offered
for that problem, after a few more people got killed, was to reduce the
lanes from 4 to 3. Personally, I think this works fine. Many people, most
importantly a lot of the business owners on Broadway, strongly disagree.

So then a petition gets circulated to Broadway business owners by Clayton
Floyd, former councilman who moved to Stevensville, linking the neighborhood
plan to the road diet and lawsuits blocking your right to expand your
business. They get a number of signatures and Mr. Hendrickson ultimately
makes an amendment to remove the Broadway corridor from the plan. Do to the
reasons I cite above and Dave Strohmaier's absence, incredibly, the
amendment actually passes.

So now we are back in committee with a plan update that removes the
commercial district of the neighborhood from the plan. It changes the
underlying land use designation for most of the corridor from city center
back to highway heavy. Please refer to the NMCDC newsletter for an in depth
article on the matter. It is available at www.nmcdc.org. After reviewing
the full impact of the violation committed against the plan by this
amendment, Ed Childers made a motion today to reject the plan update and
just go back to what we had. This motion failed on a tie (with Stacy absent
from committee). So another motion was made to send the plan on to the
council floor with no recommendation. This passed with Jerry's vote (he can
count to ten and could see it was time to move on.)

After lunch we moved on to Public works. We dealt with some sidewalk orders
and then the new ordinance that allows bars to make an outdoor seating area
on the sidewalk as long as its fenced in. This did get approved with a
number of restrictions. Most important is that the sidewalk operation has to
be packed up by 9 pm. There also has to be six feet of clear sidewalk
outside the fence. So that means they need six feet after the tree planters
and parking meters. Most of the bars downtown are excluded since the
sidewalks are too narrow.

We set the public hearing for the Hillview Way SID for Sept. 17th.

We briefly discussed the Miller Creek Round about. This was held over for a
future meeting.

The main item in A&F was the Performing Arts Center. If this project is
successful it will be a huge asset for our community. The proponents are
very clear that if the city council does not get behind the project by
providing the land it will be very hard to get the kind of momentum needed
to succeed. It's a $60,000,000 project. They want to float a $20,000,000
county bond and raise the balance from donors. When this came before us six
months ago we asked them to update their Pro forma and philanthropy study to
try to show that it is possible to raise this kind of money. They updated
the studies and as predictable are certain they can pull it off. Please
refer to the agenda to see the links to the documents. The big issues for
the council have to do with the future ability to go to the people of
Missoula for bonds for essential services if something like this passes, and
the reality of the Pro forma. If we manage to build this thing will we
actually be able to keep it running? We passed a $5,000,000 bond for the
fire stations. But keeping the new firehouse staffed is bleeding every extra
penny from the budget. Is there really a $20,000,000 donor in this
community? If we have so much money for the Arts why is the Art museum
begging to us to cover their heat bill? Will they really sell 1000 seats at
$25 each every three days all year? The studies were presented to us this
morning. I look forward to reading them carefully.

Thanks for your interest,

Bob Jaffe

Missoula City Council, Ward 3

<mailto:bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us> bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us


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