The proposal to allow more granny cottages in Missoula is moving ahead – but without support from the Consolidated Planning Board.

This week, the board voted 5-4 against a recommendation to back the plan, but board chairman John DiBari said the matter still could get approval later on from the Missoula City Council. First, it will head to the Plat, Annexation and Zoning committee.

“It’s their baby, and they can decide whether they want to throw it out with the bathwater or nurture it,” DiBari said of council members.

The proposal is to loosen regulations to make accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, legal to build in single-family districts. The most controversial ones are backyard cottages, but another example is the basement apartment.

Proponents say the small residences are sustainable and help create more needed rentals in Missoula. Opponents, who have mounted a formal protest, say packing more people into single-family districts will bring more noise and trash, and undercut green space and quality of life.

The Planning Board is a citizen advisory board that typically recommends approval, denial or approval with suggested changes. DiBari said the split vote doesn’t reflect a consensus.

“I think that there is still a lot of room with this particular proposal to amend it in a way that could have been palatable to a majority of Planning Board members,” DiBari said.

The amount of work required would have taken a long time, though, and instead of making substantive changes to the document late at night, he said the volunteer board opted to vote it down. The council committee could send it to the full council as is for a public hearing, forward it with amendments, or even return it to the Planning Board and request the board work on the document, DiBari said.

In the meantime, he encouraged constituents to talk with their councilors, who eventually will vote on any changes.

“They should continue to carry on a discussion with their elected representatives,” DiBari said.

To learn more about the proposal, go to To sign a protest petition, go to

Reporter Keila Szpaller can be reached at @KeilaSzpaller, 523-5262, or on

Reach Keila Szpaller at @keilaszpaller, at or at (406) 523-5262.