Hillview Way

Hillview Way is slated for a $3.8 million reconstruction, but the city of Missoula and several large landowners can't agree on who should pay for the project.

The Missoula City Council voted 11-1 on Monday night to approve a special improvement district to fund the reconstruction of Hillview Way, ending a discussion now several years in the making.

The nearly unanimous vote clears the way for crews to begin the $3.8 million reconstruction of the winding South Hills road. Property owners within the new district will pay roughly $1.65 million toward the project.

The city will fund the remainder by taking $1 million from the transportation management fee, $165,000 from the parks maintenance fee, and $869,000 from the road district.

“When we have a community need, we bind together and address them as a community,” said Ward 2 Councilman Jordan Hess. “At the end of the day, it’s a good project, and it’s a good process.”

Jim Shockley, an attorney representing Marsha and Linda Frey, was the only one in attendance who offered public comment. As proposed, Shockley argued, the SID is unfair to certain landowners.

Shockley addressed the City Council’s Public Works Committee last week, where he argued the same thing. The SID would add accumulated interest when a lot is developed down the road. The interest increases each year, starting with year two.

“I’m willing to pay my fair share, but not pay a disproportionate share,” Shockley said on behalf of his clients. “This sets a sobering precedent for the future.”

Shockley said it was unfair for a property owner who chooses to build on a currently vacant lot 15 years from now to be charged 15 years' worth of interest.

But the council said the SID, as written, was the fairest way to ensure all users paid their share toward the costly improvements.

“There are parts of this that gave me some concern,” said Ward 4 Councilman Jon Wilkins. “But this is a lot more fair than the first time around, even to the large landowners. Sometimes you have to take some of the bad with the good, and I think there’s a lot of good in this project.”

Ward 2 Councilman Adam Hertz cast the lone dissenting vote.

“I feel the public subsidies for this project are too high,” Hertz said.

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