Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Two bills introduced in the Montana Legislature by Republican State Senator Forrest Mandeville of Columbus aim to simplify the process and reduce costs for developers to get housing started and finished more quickly, to increase the supply of much-needed housing.

KGVO News spoke to Senator Mandeville, who described his first bill that is being introduced on Wednesday afternoon, SB 130.

“One tool that a lot of people will use to create a buildable lot is an exemption from subdivision review,” said Senator Mandeville. “So a family transfer, for example, or a boundary relocation survey would qualify. Right now there is no timeline on how long it can take a local government to review those applications. So, one bill would simply put a timeline on it. We're asking for 20 working days, which is very reasonable, and should not put an undue strain on local government.”

Mandeville provided more details on that bill.

“The bill to put a timeframe on it will really help just move those projects along quicker,” he said. “It's mainly aimed at smaller projects. This bill will expand that scope to make sure that we can get the small exempt projects done within a month and that would allow those new lots to be put on the market significantly quicker. We won't be waiting six months potentially to get these done.”

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Another bill Mandeville has submitted, SB 131 would consolidate the many boards that must approve building projects.

“The other bill I’m carrying will allow local governments to consolidate some of these land use boards,” he said. “For example, a board of adjustment, a planning board and the Zoning Commission, we would authorize them to combine those boards and that's going to speed up the process by making it so a developer an applicant doesn't have to go through potentially three different boards, plus the city council or county commissioners on one project.”

Mandeville expanded on the benefits of such a bill.

“Not having to go through potentially three or four boards to get a project improved is going to make that a lot quicker and less expensive,” he said. “You're paying an engineer and a surveyor to go to three different meetings and so you're going to pay their rates for travel and hourlies for all those meetings. If there was one board enabled to do all of that decision making are all that recommendation, you're going to cut down on time and cost.”

Click here to see the bills that Senator Mandeville is presenting.

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