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East Missoula 2

East Missoula Community Council members Ryan Alter, Dick Ainsworth, Lee Bridges and Lisa Thomas, from left, stand next to a sign that took a year of regulatory wrangling to install.

East Missoula Community Council (EMCC) is losing one of its most valued board members; Dick Ainsworth is terming out of the position he’s held since the East Missoula Community Council was first created in 2007.

For years, Dick served as chairman of the board, coordinating the Highway 200 study and project here in East Missoula; spearheading the yearlong task of amending outdated laws on the books to enable us to erect the new “Welcome to East Missoula” sign as you enter the community from the westside; working diligently for years on the East Missoula zoning issue.

Dick Ainsworth has long had the foresight to understand the need to zone the un-zoned areas of East Missoula. Years ago, initial public hearings on zoning in our community created rambunctious meetings of standing-room-only attendance. East Missoula is a headstrong community, determined on protecting our individualism and unique character. We like “doing things our way” out here.

Dick Ainsworth had the moxie and fortitude to press forward with the long, drawn-out process of zoning East Missoula. After the initial outbursts by the community, he quieted down the firestorm and followed the county playbook on the process. Realizing we will one day be annexed by the city, and for the good of our growing community, Dick Ainsworth led the EMCC in working with Missoula Community and Planning Services (CAPS) to methodically walk our community through the process needed to zone the un-zoned areas. With the higher density expansion city sewer has allowed us, our fossilized growth plan from the mid-‘70s first needed to be updated.

After years of actively working with CAPS and the residents of East Missoula, we have recently completed that first major step in the zoning process. The Missoula County commissioners have approved our new East Missoula Land Use Growth Plan that creatively incorporated a new “Live/Make” designation out here, permitting all the entrepreneurs, cottage industries and home-based businesses sprinkled throughout the unzoned areas of our community to live on site of our livelihoods. We can now move forward seamlessly with the zoning process in East Missoula.

Thank you for your outstanding service and commitment to our East Missoula community, Dick Ainsworth! It has been an honor to work alongside you. The East Missoula Community Council seeks to continue the level of commitment and duty you have set as the standard for our board.

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Lee Bridges is chair of the East Missoula Community Council.

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