NewsMissoula County


Missoula Co. using new tools in response to development growth

Missoula Housing
Posted at 4:39 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 18:39:47-05

MISSOULA — We told you earlier this year about an influx of people moving to our state in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, the data shows our development is not enough to reach the demand.

The Missoula Organization of Realtors (MOR) reports that in order to meet the demand for housing, Missoula County should be building out 600 new homes every year.

“You hear everything about affordable housing, the crisis, the sense of urgency that we need,” said Real Property Projects coordinator Sam Scott.

But in 2020, only 170 new properties were created and over the past three years - only 756 new parcels of land, total.

“The future of homeownership looks fairly bleak,” noted Shyla Scott with the Missoula County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

The paper trail for new sales is now showing how great the demand is in Missoula County.

“People want to go to Montana. And we’re seeing that impact in our office,” Shyla Scott said

The Clerk’s office saw a 20% increase in property ownership documents in 2020 -- and the boom isn’t slowing down.

“Experts don’t anticipate this ending in the next year,” Shyla Scott said.

“These projects are taking five-to-10 years. That doesn’t bode well for my ability to buy a home, my ability to create a future here,” Sam Scott said.

Missoula County officials are looking for solutions.

Map Missoula, and the subdivision approval tracking site iSam, are two examples of creations from the Missoula County Clerk and Treasurer’s Office that aim to make it easier for developers -- as well as the public -- to find updates on projects, and streamline development.

Missoula County Commissioner Juanita Vero says these types of platforms could do good for the whole state, "I only imagine Gallatin County could use something like this."

However, even with tools and an increased sense of urgency, Missoula County commissioners are warning about hasty development.

“It simply is going to take a while, because we want to do a thorough review. Not everything that comes through the door is in that great of shape, and that’s on the developers, so there is shared responsibility,” Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmeier explained.

No one can say if -- or when -- Missoula’s housing market will meet the demand, but officials say these new platforms are a step in the right direction.

The new platforms can be found online at the Missoula County Property Information System and so far, Map Missoula has helped the county cut the time in half to review projects.

Missoula County is also creating new platforms to show proposed development as well as history interpretation.