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A proposed subdivision at the end of Briggs Street attracted a swarm of angry neighbors at Monday's City Council meeting.

But while protesters argued the project would put too many houses into a too-small space, the developer's representative countered he was following the city's own rules.

The council took no action Monday night. It may have more discussion of the project at its Wednesday Plat, Annexation and Zoning Committee meeting at 10 a.m.

The project would put up to 24 homes on a 5.14-acre site at the east end of Briggs Street. Developer Ken Ault requested a "planned neighborhood cluster" (PNC) which allows more flexibility in lot size and house design than the regular zoning code does. In particular, he wanted permission to let the lots range from 3,600 square feet to 10,776 square feet, when the zoning calls for a minimum 8,000 square feet.

Speakers at Monday's public hearing complained those smaller lots were likely to turn into rentals with poor maintenance and excess traffic. They also protested that the development would be out of character with the rest of the neighborhood.

"Changing the rules in the middle of the game shouldn't be tolerated, and I think that's what's happening with this cluster subdivision," Larkspur Drive resident Rich Winters told the council. "It became clear the proposed subdivision was already a done deal."

Developer's representative Nick Kaufman countered that a similar development was just several hundred feet away from this site, and had received few complaints. He added that the city government approved the PNC rules in 1999 and Ault had the right to follow them.

"We have designed a development that meets every rule and regulation," Kaufman told the council. "If this is the grist for the mill to change rules we spent a decade developing, I'd say 'No sir.' "

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com

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