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Missoula City Council holds “cash-in-lieu” of parkland payment for another week

Missoula Housing Development
Posted at 8:28 AM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 10:28:36-04

MISSOULA — The Missoula City Council on Monday slowed the carriage in deciding an appropriate cash-in-lieu of parkland fee that’s been proposed now for several weeks.

Chairman of the Land Use and Planning Committee, Jordan Hess, said conversations thus far have been productive, but more conversation was needed.

The Consolidated Planning Board voted against the changes earlier this month on a 4-5 vote.

“What this is intended to do is be a very surgical commitment to our cash-in-lieu procedures, to modify a procedure that no one seems to like that much be it, staff, elected officials, developers or the public,” Hess said.

The effort as proposed by some city officials seeks to shift the appraisal of undeveloped land away from developers and place it under the purview of the city.

That has lead to accusations from both sides, with some saying the development community couldn’t be trusted in contracting its own appraiser and others saying the city was equally distrusted and in it to control the outcome of a property’s appraisal value.

Regardless, the number of subdivision applications in Missoula has grown as the development community attempts to meet the area’s demand for housing, which continues to climb as the population grows.

Depending on their size, those subdivisions are either required to dedicated 11% of their property for parkland or donate a “cash-in-lieu” of parkland payment to the city.

The “cash-in-lieu” payment is set by the fair-market appraisal of the undeveloped parcel. Historically, hiring the appraiser has been the responsibility of the developer, though city planners have proposed changing the language to shift that requirement to the city.

Hess said he wants to hold a decision for another week of discussion.

“This is the necessary thing to do,” he said. “There’s more work to do as far as making sure the procedures contemplated are satisfactory to everyone.”