[MissoulaGov] committee update 12-12-07

Westridge Creative westridge at montana.com
Thu Dec 13 15:20:29 MST 2007

(I'm not sure how to post this???)

Comp Plans do matter, in fact---they could matter a whole lot more than
they do now if we decide to make them matter. It's not the only criteria
but it can and should be an important one. Otherwise, why have them at

Do they guide us, whether in the NSide, Rattlesnake or Miller Creek, or
do they collect dust? The answer seems to rest with who currently sits
in the seats at City Council.

'Guiding' development through planning documents seems smart, no? If we
do not feel the guiding documents are sufficient, would we not want ones
that are, and build them? Where is the harm? In that way, at the very
least there is some measurement of surety for developers, neighbors,
policy deciders, etc. It does, and would, even the playing field.
Perhaps that's why some folks seem to discount their importance?

We would not have Jim McGrath and Pete Talbot, both arguing important
ideas, disagree on what the planning documents are saying and whether
it's 2/acre, 10/acre, 'should' 'could' 'big houses' little houses' 'more
money' 'less money' 'more power, less power'...on and on and on. Not
that that alone would keep those two from argument, but we'd be closer
to certainty on some things...and planning seems to me to be one of
those things where certainty should matter. Builders, realtors,
developers, and neighbors have said it does over and over and over, over
the years. Are we listening, should we begin listening now? It seems we
could and it seems we should.

Plans, when we have them to 'guide' us, do matter. Shouldn't they

It's a place to start when you have them. For Sonata, I would love to
see the current (and only) Plan we do have as a starting point for this
discussion of potential important compromise from where the neighborhood
folks (who are truly engaged and willing to stay engaged (isn't that
what we always complain about NOT happening?) and the developers (who
have a legitimate and important stake in this discussion too).

An incredible opportunity exists here...let's let the City Council (as
Jim McGrath states happens in the Rattlesnake planning discussions) NOT
have to take up any more of their 'politic' time debating which number
to settle on, but give that challenge to the Neighborhood group and
Developers. Tell them that the Plan DOES matter, but not exclusively.
Tell them 37 units won't be the final number and neither will 11. Give
them one month to bring back the magic number everyone can agree
to---GIVE THEM ONE MONTH, no more, no less.

If they do---approve it. If they don't, then choose a number and move

BUT, if Missoula is ever going to make different, and potentially better
progress on these issues---for everyone's benefit, this could be the
FIRST step.

And if either the neighbors or developers say NO WAY...consider that.
Why will one more month, after 15 years be impossible. Even if they've
tried before. Preventable lawsuits should be prevented. If one month can
do that, then it's a good month indeed. It'll save both side lots of

Make planning documents, matter---in some important way but not as the
only way. Maybe the two groups will choose a design that clusters more
of the housing towards the Duncan infrastructure, maybe they'll choose a
number higher than neighbors ever thought but not lower than developers
ever thought.

Imagine that possibility and give them that charge. It's only a month.
It could begin the change that could mean so much for this growing
community and its citizens. Don't let naysayers say "We've tried, we
can't". They certainly can, and if they can't, it'll be their faults and
no one else's.

It'll be their last chance--perhaps, but maybe, the beginning of our
community's best chance for growing into the future.

Jim Parker, Owner
WestRidge Creative
PO Box 8492
Missoula, MT 59807
Phone: 406.327.1596
Fax: 406.542.0513

-----Original Message-----
From: missoulagov-bounces at cmslists.com
[mailto:missoulagov-bounces at cmslists.com] On Behalf Of Pete Talbot
Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2007 2:36 PM
To: Jim McGrath
Cc: bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us; missoulagov at cmslists.com
Subject: Re: [MissoulaGov] committee update 12-12-07

While I'm not exactly sure what "a real political economy of planning"
is, I agree that it probably hasn't happened, yet. I'm keeping my
fingers crossed that the proposed rewrite of the zoning regs might be a
start. Then we need to get the county on board. Cheers,

Jim McGrath wrote:

> Pete,


> The reason it remains unzoned, as I recall, because it was mutually

> protested-- i.e. neighbors blocked owners zoning, and owners blocked

> neighbors. Something like that. Neither proposal could get the super

> majority of council.


> The Rattlesnake is a sacred cow. Period. As you know, I supported

> progressive planning efforts in that neighborhood (and others) and


> decisions on zoning based on plans for the most part. I also spent


> time on small subdivision deliberations in the Rattlesnake than any

> other part of town, probably combined.


> I'm being deliberately crusty. But I still challenge you to a real

> political economy of planning. :-)


> -----Original Message-----

> From: Pete Talbot [mailto:petetalbot at montana.com]

> Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2007 10:37 AM

> To: Jim McGrath

> Cc: bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us; missoulagov at cmslists.com

> Subject: Re: [MissoulaGov] committee update 12-12-07


> Bob, Jim:

> Ahh, a little reverse-elitism. Because the folks in the Rattlesnake



> in nice homes, and are a pain in the butt when it comes to growth and

> planning issues: screw 'em.


> I'm not sure why there wasn't more protest over the 600 unit Miller

> Creek plan -- there should have been. Maybe it's because most


> up there is also a resident of a new, major subdivision, they don't



> they have a right to complain; or maybe it's because the developers


> land owners up there were smart enough to advance a comp plan and



> that would allow for this sort of development; or maybe it's because

> people up Miller Creek just don't give a damn about what their area

> looks like; I don't know. Whatever ... I don't see that the lack of

> protest on Miller Creek subdivisions should be used as a reason to

> penalize the Duncan Dr. folks.


> Here's the kicker: I think that the Duncan Dr. protesters are being a

> little too restrictive in their demands. I'm not so much opposed to


> number of homes in the subdivision as to the way it's planned. If


> were some clustering close to the road, a dedicated open space


> with public access higher up on the property (and maybe some thought


> an affordable housing component -- although that's a pipe dream), then



> might support Sonata Park. I agree that it won't put that much traffic

> pressure on Duncan Dr., at least compared to the traffic miasma we'll



> seeing on Miller Cr. Rd.


> I guess what fired me up enough to respond was the "Rattlesnake

> residents are a bunch of whiners who care too much about where they

> live" attitude. I was on the initial planning group for the unzoned

> lands in the Rattlesnake, called for by Mayor Kemmis back in the early

> 1990's. We came up with a plan but it was shot down by council. I'm


> sure why the lands are still not zoned but to be allowing subdivisions

> to go in without zoning is quite regrettable. And I'm guessing that


> City bears some responsibility here.


> Oh yeah, having walked all over the Rattlesnake for many years now, I

> can attest to the fact it isn't as wealthy an area as people seem to

> think. There are a number of modest homes, duplexes, apartments, even

> mobile homes, scattered around the valley. The fact that the housing

> market has everything in the 'snake way overpriced isn't the fault of

> the residents. Compared to the University Homeowners Association,

> Rattlesnake residents are a pretty mellow crowd.


> Finally, the Sonata Park doesn't really impact me -- I'm on the other

> side of the creek -- but because of all the open space lands



> the Rattlesnake, the valley is a special area. And it's used and


> by folks from all over our city. Please keep this in mind.

> Pete Talbot



>> Bob,


>> Here comes my usual on the Rattlesnake.


>> I find it ironic that the Council pencil whips approval for the

>> largest subdivision in history and then get bogged down in a small

>> subdivision with little impact in the Rattlesnake.


>> I agree that the main rub is comp plan compliance. However, don't get

>> me started on the politic economy of growth policy compliance. The

>> City Council fervently defends the rattlesnake with it's high end

>> homes and condos but prefers to defend large business interests over

>> lower income neighbors.


>> You guys should assess a Rattlesnake-using-city-time fee!


>> Happy holidays!







>> *From:* missoulagov-bounces at cmslists.com

>> [mailto:missoulagov-bounces at cmslists.com] *On Behalf Of *Bob Jaffe

>> *Sent:* Wednesday, December 12, 2007 10:20 PM

>> *To:* missoulagov at cmslists.com

>> *Subject:* [MissoulaGov] committee update 12-12-07


>> Greetings,


>> In public safety we finished up the chicken discussion. There wasn't

>> much more to say about the whole thing so Jerry made the motion to

>> move it to the floor with the amendment that there should be $15

>> annual licensing. Jon Wilkins tried to amend the motion to include a

>> provision that adjacent neighbors had to give permission for someone

>> to have chickens. The amendment did not pass. We will discuss and





>> on this on the floor on Monday night. As long as no one is absent it

>> should pass.


>> In conservation we set the public hearing for the new parks fee

>> schedule. Most everything is going up about 10%. The parks department

>> and conservation lands people also presented Jerry Ballas with some

>> gifts in honor of his leadership and service to the parks during his

>> years on council.


>> The whole two hour PAZ meeting was dedicated to the Sonata Park

>> subdivision off of Duncan Road. My vote on this is going to come down

>> to how literal I think growth policies should be read. A number of

>> issues have been raised and addressed. There is a fear that the

>> underground pipeline will explode. This pipeline runs through plenty

>> of subdivisions and communities. It runs right across the Rattlesnake

>> valley. It runs through the Clark Fork Terrace subdivision that we

>> just approved.


>> Concerns were raised that there is some kind of geological fault and

>> unstable soils on this hillside. We conditioned the subdivision on a

>> geotechnical study being approved by the engineering department. If

>> there are geotechnical problems this study should identify them and

>> make appropriate recommendations for mitigation.


>> There are concerns about additional traffic. Duncan road north of





>> St. currently sees 1700 trips per day. The road can handle way more

>> than that. It gets a lot of pedestrian traffic so bike and pedestrian

>> improvements will be needed at some point.


>> Some feel that there shouldn't be more homes up near the open space.

>> That goes for every subdivision that is on the fringe of town.

>> Everyone hates to see former open space turn into subdivisions but

>> saying no for that reason isn't really a legal option.


>> The one issue I struggle with is that this neighborhood organized

>> itself and developed a neighborhood comprehensive plan in 1995 that

>> calls for very low density development on this hillside. That plan





>> approved and adopted into the growth policy by the city council.

>> Pretty much every neighborhood that has seen growth can attest that

>> comp. plans are a general guide and are not taken literally in every

>> chapter and verse.


>> My understanding is that the legal protest limit has been met on this

>> project so it will take eight votes to pass the zoning. Without the

>> Zoning the subdivision cannot go forward as proposed.


>> We scheduled another session for Friday 9-11 to try to finish this up

>> so we can vote on it Monday night.


>> In A&F we honored Jack Reidy for his many years of service and passed

>> a motion to name the council conference room after him.


>> In Public Works we bought some trucks and a forklift. We also

>> discussed the interlocal agreement with the county over the

>> construction on Miller creek road. They are wanting the agreement to

>> be re-worked so they can more or less step out of the deal and let





>> city take over the project even though some of it is on county land.

>> There were two parts that raised some interest. One clause ceded the

>> county's right to use eminent domain to the city for this project. It

>> is highly unlikely that this will come into play on this project but

>> it should be provided for in the agreement. A question was raised





>> the legality of the city having extra-jurisdictional eminent domain

>> authority.


>> The other issue had to do with a deal where the prior owner of the

>> Maloney Ranch property gifted $250,000 to the county at the time when

>> the property was sold for development. The gift was earmarked for a

>> bridge into lower miller creek. There was a letter in our packet from

>> the guy that said it was for a bridge and if a bridge could not be

>> built by 2020 then it could be used for other infrastructure

>> improvements. This money (with interest now $340,000) is part of the

>> financing package for the planned improvements. The rationale is that

>> at this point, the way things are going, it is highly unlikely that a

>> second access bridge can be constructed by 2020. So therefore the

>> money is free to use now on other infrastructure projects. No reason

>> to actually wait until 2020. The man who made the gift has passed





>> but there is a letter from his daughter that says it is OK to use the

>> money in this way.


>> This raised all sorts of red flags. We wanted our legal council to

>> weigh in on this to confirm that it is legit. Mr. Haines also took

>> great offence to this plan as it was symbolic of abandoning the





>> to construct the bridge.


>> Thanks for your interest,


>> Bob Jaffe


>> Missoula City Council, Ward 3


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


>> 406-728-1052







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