-Sherry Devlin reporting for the Missoula Current
MISSOULA – The Missoula City Council will reconsider its decision to open the alley behind a taphouse and restaurant that will soon replace Hoagieville at the corner of South Avenue and Higgins Street.
At the request of the restaurant’s nearest neighbor – whose home sits alongside the alley and directly behind Hoagieville, Ward 4 Councilman John DiBari requested that the issue be placed on the council’s April 8 agenda for reconsideration.
Helen Petroff has lived behind the drive-in since 1956 and didn’t know that the City Council was discussing – and voting on – the alley at its March 25 meeting.
She wants the alley to remain closed to through traffic, with a barricade blocking all vehicles from the portion of the alley nearest her house.
The City Council closed the alley in 1988 because of Petroff’s concerns about traffic coming and going from the drive-in restaurant.
But with Hoagieville owner Chris Goble’s plans to raze the drive-in and replace it with a taphouse came a request that the barrier be removed, allowing customers better access to Livingston, Lester and South avenues.
Goble would pay to pave the entire length of alley.
City staff favor removing the barrier, and on March 25 City Council members added their approval – rescinding the 1988 closure, but adding conditions requiring signs encouraging taphouse customers to exit the alley behind the next-door convenience store, rather than alongside Petroff’s home.
That decision came without Petroff or other nearby neighbors on Livingston Avenue knowing it was on the agenda, and without their formal public comment.
DiBari’s request for reconsideration will give them a chance to comment, and influence a second vote of the council, next Monday, April 8.
“We will reconsider the same motion,” DiBari explained. “We’ll reconsider removal of the barricade. You’ll have an opportunity to influence the decision next week.”
Many of Petroff’s concerns about the new business were met in February, when council members approved the overall plan for the taphouse.
The hours of operation were limited, the view of her front yard from the planned second-story, south-facing deck will be obscured, and she was under the impression that the narrow alley that runs between her home and the business would remain closed.
In fact, though, that decision wasn’t made in February, but was delayed by nearly two months.
And now, DiBari said, it’ll be made a second time.