In a near unanimous decision, the Missoula City Council voted 10 to 1 on Monday, September 9, to retroactively create a restrictive ordinance that directly hampered plans to relocate the Union Gospel Mission from Toole Avenue to West Broadway.

After the votes were tallied, Ward 6 Councilman Ed Childers said he was not surprised at all that the vote went the way it did.

"I was the only one who was concerned enough about doing retroactive ordinances to vote against doing it," Childers said. "My concern is - when the government goes back in time to make ordinances - I think it's problematic. It makes it difficult for anybody to know what's going to happen to them."

Many claim that the council's decision could open the city up to a lawsuit from the Union Gospel Mission.

"It really depends on what the folks at the mission want to do," Childers said. "I know they have a lawyer already. I don't know what they want to do with it, how much money they want to spend on a lawsuit, but if some kind of cooperation could be found between the mission and the city's enforcement folk and the neighbors, that would be really helpful."

The Union Gospel Mission has indeed spoken to legal council. So far, though, the attorney they are working with has not been given permission to speak on behalf of the mission regarding the case.

Ed Childers: