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Rezoning not needed for Missoula's Temporary Safe Outdoor Space

Posted at 12:48 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 14:48:05-05

MISSOULA — Missoula County commissioners voted not to rezone the lot for the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space on Thursday and instead passed a motion saying rezoning would be unnecessary.

Commissioner Josh Slotnick says because of the emergency declaration surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, they didn't need to seek any specific designation or land use permits for the space.

Slotnick said during a Thursday public meeting that two opinions about the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space were common.

On one hand, many said they want to support our homeless community during this time, but don’t want that population in their neighborhood, for fear of any new harm or danger.

On the other hand, others in support said they think people should have a safe and secure place to go during the pandemic, and this is the best option.

Throughout this process, community members have complained that they have not had enough time to make public comment on the location.

Slotnick says every opinion is valid, but those involved have fought hard to set up this space.

“I mean we’re not buying people new buildings, and setting them up,” Slotnick said. “They are camping outside in the wintertime. When you really think about that, it does kind of grab your heart a little bit.”

The Safe Outdoor Space is meant to be temporary until the end of March.

However, commissioners say it could last as long as the emergency declaration lasts, which could go until the vaccine becomes readily available -- likely in June.