MISSOULA - The Missoula Consolidated Planning Board this week recommended that a Target Range subdivision with 14 lots be approved by the county, though members also lamented changes to state law that prohibit them from considering a project’s impact on agricultural soils.
The Dairy Subdivision is planned by Tia Tam LLC on 10 acres between North and South avenues in the Target Range neighborhood. Current zoning allows up to two homes per acre in the area and, as proposed, the project would result in 1.4 homes per acre.
“These lots will average almost 17,000 square feet,” said project representative Ron Ewart. “They’ll all be single-family homes and meet design standards and minimum square footage as required by the covenants.”
The project drew no controversy during this week’s hearing. It will be served by an off-site community water system and roughly half the lots will be served by Presby Wastewater Treatment Systems, the others by septic.
The property once served as a dairy operation and was grazed by cattle. But changes made to state law by the Montana Legislature now prohibit any consideration of farmland soils when making a recommendation or placing conditions on a project.
“I’d be remiss if I’m not upset over state laws regarding subdivisions and not being able to consider agricultural lands,” said board member Sean McCoy. “That seems folly in an agricultural state.”
The area’s shallow groundwater raised some concerns, but the Presby treatment systems are intended to filter more nitrates and prevent seepage into the groundwater.
The county is also recommending that the well serving the project be metered, with usage reported to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.
“I’d really love to see one of the subdivisions that come before us really think about water conservation in terms of landscaping, and the extent that you can encourage efficient building materials,” said board member Dori Gilels. “I would love to see some model developments we can make a shining example out of.”