Larchmont Project May Open Other County Land to Development
Missoula County Commissioners held a Microsoft Teams meeting on Thursday morning to provide an update on the proposal to move Larchmont Golf Course across the Bitterroot River to utilize the present land for a massive multi-use housing development.
Director of Economic and Land Development for Missoula County Emily Brock began the discussion with a statement of purpose.
“We're here today to discuss and get a direction from the Commission on next steps for proposal by a local housing developer to build housing where the county owned Larchmont Golf Course currently sits,” began Brock. “The proposal is by Blue Line Development and calls for a land deal where in exchange for 152 acres at Larchmont, the county would obtain 157 acres off of Highway 93 South where a new public golf course is proposed to be developed.”
Brock said no final decision would be made at today’s meeting, but options could be examined.
“Today I'm asking the commission to decide if it wants to dedicate further staff resources and commit funding to perform the initial due diligence or fatal flaw process,” she said. “In other words, do you commissioners want to spend time and money to determine whether this project is even possible?”
Jeff Smith with WGM Group presented the project from the developer’s perspective.
“The idea before us today allows the county to utilize an existing asset to provide affordable housing,” said Smith. “Through implementing this tool the county has the leverage needed to control permanent affordability on a transformational scale. The entire impetus behind this proposal is to develop housing opportunities for the workforce in Missoula. Community Land Trust models, deed restrictions around affordability, potential deed restrictions around sale to people working in Missoula County will be part of this equation. These tools can help ensure that housing remains affordable and is protected for Missoula’s workforce.”
As the conversation developed over the period of nearly 90 minutes, several individuals commenting during the public meeting asked why Larchmont was the only county-owned land under consideration for this project. County Commissioner Josh Slotnick presented the question to Emily Brock.
“I'm wondering if maybe the best thing for us to do right now in the short term is to free you up, and go do this really deep dive into all the land that we own, and all the land that maybe we could divest towards housing,” said Slotnick. “At that point after we have that information in hand, if Larchmont rises up to the top as the best place for us to think about swapping, then we reengage this whole fatal flaw thing, the whole deal and go forward. There right now maybe our best bet, to use your time over the next year to take a look at all the public land we have and see if there's anything in there that is a better fit.”
The commissioners emphasized the fact that with Missoula’s housing problem at a crisis level, the Larchmont project is still years away from opening a single door to a Missoula family.
In addition, it was clarified that no infrastructure or development could occur on the present Larchmont property until the new golf course has been completed and is open for play.
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