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Politics Pop: Westside development moves forward, Missoula's Trust Montana receives HOME funding

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A plan to rezone an area a bit less than a half block with eight mobile homes and two existing structures near Westside Park got approval from the Missoula Planning Board this week.

A proposed site plan for the area, which is about 38,985 square feet off Shakespeare and Burton streets, calls for 24 units. The zoning designation is neighborhood business and would allow for light commercial use. The property could technically contain up to 38 dwelling units with a maximum height of 40 feet.

However, the plans submitted by the developers include only residential usage at this time and will likely not include any large apartment buildings.

The scheduled start date would be on approval of a site plan by the city, said Paul Forsting of IMEG, the civil engineering and land use firm consulting on the project. The land is owned by Westside Village LLC.

Parking concerns were brought up and the plans call for 29 parking spots. Current tenants in the area have already been notified their leases are ending. Some of the mobile homes will be refurbished, and all other structures will be torn down.

The plan is on the consent agenda for Monday's City Council meeting.

"We're actually increasing the number of units available for rent, we understand that they'll be more expensive as a result of new construction and the cost of doing business," Forsting told the Planning Board. "But they'll still be obtainable units for people to rent and they're going to be high quality."

Trust Montana, an affordable housing land trust in Missoula, will receive $350,000 in federal funding.

The Montana Department of Commerce announced on Monday that Trust Montana will get the money through the Commerce's HOME Investment Partnership Program.

Money in the program will be used for down payment and closing cost assistance for eligible participants in the program. Trust Montana is a statewide community land trust to facilitate, "Workforce housing, farmland affordability and the preservation of vital community assets," a news release said.

“Thanks to a HOME grant award from the Montana Department of Commerce, Trust Montana is pleased to be moving forward with a new affordable home program for Missoula County, with hopes of eventually expanding the program to other communities around the state,” Hermina Harold, Trust Montana executive director, said in the release.

“The grant funds will ensure the homes purchased will remain affordable in perpetuity, serving as a stepping-stone for households otherwise unable to move from rental to ownership.”

After loss of a lease, the St. Regis United States Post Office will relocate services from 90 Mullan Rd. West to a new facility in St. Regis located at 330 MT-135.

The Post Office on Mullan Road will continue service at that location until Sept. 30, 2021. After that point, a USPS release said, "services may have to temporarily locate to Superior, MT, until the replacement facility is open and operating as a Post Office."

The release said the USPS considered community input and that the decision met organization objectives. An earlier release from the USPS said the St. Regis facility will need about 1,800 square feet and at least 15 parking spots.

Jordan Hansen covers news and local government for the Missoulian. Contact him on Twitter @jordyhansen or via email at Jordan.Hansen@Missoulian.com

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