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Accessory Dwelling Unit proposal still on City Council table

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Dec 04 2012 12:30:34 AM MST
Updated On: Dec 04 2012 12:59:28 AM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

The Missoula City Council met Monday evening to discuss a new ordinance that would allow urban homeowners the option of building an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU, on their property.  Some expected the ordinance to advance, but it didn't make it that far.

“Before we really had a chance to get into the meat and nuts and bolts of my proposal, another motion was made to send the whole nine yards back to committee,” said city council member Dave Strohmaier.  

Former Missoula city council member Renee Mitchell attended the meeting to voice some questions of her own.

“Has there been an inventory done in Missoula of how many ADUs we have currently?” asked Mitchell.  “Has there been a study or inventory of how many of these are actually owner-occupied?”

Part of the new ordinance would require the owner to live on the property, either in the main house or the ADU, but some folks think that would be unenforceable.

The controversial ordinance has been on the council's table for years.  Council member Jon Wilkins says he worries about how it would change the face of Missoula neighborhoods.

“Every neighborhood's a little bit different,” said Wilkins.  “The biggest point that somebody would try to do, is to try and keep their neighborhood character.”

The new ordinance would require ADUs to be less than 600 square feet, a maximum height of 22 feet and the unit would have to be 10 feet away from the primary house.  But some worry the proposal doesn't fit Missoula's needs.

“If we’re going to actually do this and says it’s enforceable it would be nice to know where we stand already,” said Mitchell.  “Do any of you know? Does anyone have an idea of how many ADUs we have in Missoula?”

The proposed ordinance was sent back to the Plat, Annexation and Zoning Committee for more discussion next Wednesday.