Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On the KGVO City Talk edition of the Talk Back show on Thursday, the topic of Missoula’s growth policy, including zoning and development code was discussed, with questions from callers.

First to comment was Ashley Brittner Wells, Community Engagement Specialist for Community Planning, Development and Innovation for the City of Missoula, who described a public meeting on Tuesday at the Missoula County Fairgrounds.

“We're having this first community kick off this big public event on Tuesday, December 13, at the Commercial Building at the Missoula County Fairgrounds to really raise awareness and provide information about what this project is going to look like,” began Brittner Wells. “We’ll provide a little bit of education so that residents feel like they understand what's happening and when they can engage. There are six phases of engagement and we'll be asking for public participation at really targeted places throughout this project, to make sure that we're having this community conversation because the outcome is not predetermined.”

Ben Brewer, Planning Supervisor for Community Planning Development and Innovation for the city said the codes being discussed are not specifically about building codes, but rather codes that will help to shape development overall.

“The codes that we're really going to be looking at here are the city codes related to development,” said Brewer. “So that's really talking about zoning subdivision regs (regulations), engineering standards and, and some administrative rules and parts of other codes that apply to development. Primarily we're talking about development on private property, although there are certain aspects of how that ties in with the public realm and including streets and roads and sidewalks as well.”

Joining Brittner Wells and Brewer on City Talk was Lisa Davey who explained the role of an organization called Common Good Missoula in the process.

“Common Good Missoula is basically very new,” said Davey. “We had our founding assembly last May, and we've been in kind of a sponsorship state for the last three years, growing and building relationships across the city with different community members and organizations. Because everything that we do is really based on relationships and building those so that we have enough trust within our membership and within people across the community to have some of these tougher conversations.”

Brittner Wells acknowledged the long-term plans of the city for development need the support of the overall community.

“I think we all know that housing is a big concern for a lot of residents in town, and for us as well, but I think it's important to note that instead of doing this incremental change, we’re having a holistic community conversation, where we get to the update of the growth policy and what that vision really is,” she said. “So then we can update the tools, and one of the tools that we have to carry out that vision is the development code.”

Brewer provided a timeline for updating the code reform project.

“You know, we're looking at roughly a two-year timeline for this project, give or take,” he said. “However, there's a lot involved along the way and a lot of opportunities to be involved along the way, and so we want to explain how that will work and what those opportunities are.”

The public meeting will be Tuesday, December 13 with the doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the event scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. Parks and Recreation will provide childcare. Light snacks will be provided and the event will also be broadcast on MCAT’s Local Live website.

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