NewsMissoula County


Grant Creek apartment proposal sparks controversy

Posted at 10:47 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 00:47:11-04

MISSOULA — Developers are hoping to build a four-story apartment building near Interstate-90 in the Grant Creek area. But people already living in the neighborhood say they don't want that to happen.

KJA Development is petitioning to rezone a lot in the Grant Creek area to make room for the apartments it wants to build.

“Almost as soon as we build them they fill them," owner Ken Ault said. "There’s a need, and the need is getting greater and greater. It seems like we’ve been building them for years, and the need is still there.”

Ault said he wants to put up four-story apartment buildings that would have about 1,000 units. Current zoning only allows for about 500 units.

But in a public meeting on Tuesday, the planning board recommended the city council not approve the rezoning application.

Ault says he’s moving forward with the project whether the lot gets rezoned or not, and construction is already happening. One thing Ault says he didn’t get to mention in the planning board meeting are his plans for the rest of the area like adding hiking trails and dog areas on these hills.

Ultimately the rezoning decision is up to city council. Under current zoning, Ault can build similar units, but he's hoping for more, and bigger.

“We just presented our best plan first, and it’s just been scary for the neighborhood to understand what that looks like," Ault said.

Friends of Grant Creek, a group of people living in the area, say there isn’t enough infrastructure to support the expected increased traffic, and they’re worried about access for emergency response and evacuation.

“The city does need more housing, and it needs to be distributed fairly, and it needs to be distributed in ways that the people who are moving into the houses have the services that the city is obligated to provide," Bert Lindler with Friends of Grant Creek said.

“My home for example lies within 300 yards of the last two wildfires that we have had in Grant Creek,” President Wendell Beardsley added, saying the group supports the existing zoning, and is not against growth in the area, as long as that growth is responsible.

“If the services aren’t there, that growth should not go there,” said Lindler.

Friends of Grant Creek say there is plenty of room to develop and grow under the current zoning.

KJA Development will meet with the land use and planning committee later this month, before going in front of the city council.