City Government

Feb 27, 2013 8:45 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News

Move to kill ADU issue dies in committee

MISSOULA - The controversial proposal to allow Accessory Dwelling Units as a means to more affordable housing in Missoula stays alive, with staff ordered to make further changes in hopes of finding something the city council can support.

When the Planning Board rejected the so-called "granny apartments," it sent the issue back to the council.

That left the Planning, Annexation and Zoning Committee once more wrestling with the issue Tuesday morning, with the panel remaining almost evenly split over making the change. Some still feel ADUs present a good option for affordable housing.

But others, like Councilman Jon Wilkins, say the idea remains flawed.

"And the money that we have spent could have went to potholes or other things people are complaining about," Wilkins said. "Sidewalks, all kinds of different things that money could have went to."

"Now's the time to compromise rather than just force this zoning change down our throats," ADU opponent Myra Schultz said.

John Snively, with the anti-ADU group Save Our Neighborhoods, said he thinks the law needs a 'major rewrite.'

"It is clear that this law needs a major rewrite. Not just a major rewrite but maybe just needs to be dropped."

Lee Clemenson said terms like 'owner occupany' are 'window dressing.' "We've got to call it what it is. It's a zoning change. And you must be honest with the people of Missoula about this."

Wilkins attempted to table the measure, but that failed. Councilman Dave Strohmaier, who's floated amendments before, was reluctant to try again.

Councilman Mike O'Herron said, "I don't know if the people that are opponents, or people that have been protesting are interested in looking at anything other than a no holds barred, not in my neighborhood, over my dead body opposition."

However, PAZ Chair Bob Jaffe wants to give it another shot, asking staff to take another pass at some new amendments, such as how the city would treat an internal housing unit if it expand the footprint of a house and the size of those enclosed ADUs, and clarifying requirements for owner occupancy.

Jaffe said the goal would be to have those new revisions back to the committee in a couple of weeks, setting up yet another public hearing before the city council sometime in March.

Opponents say a petition drive to force a "super majority" vote on the ADU issue has been slow, but they're still trying.

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