Missoula County Zoning Amendments - Phase 1

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 Missoula County is updating its zoning regulations. 

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To better serve the public and streamline the regulatory process, Missoula County is pleased to announce proposed changes to our Zoning Regulations. We welcome your feedback during this process. You may submit comments by email or in writing at Missoula County Community and Planning Services, 323 W. Alder, Missoula, MT 59802.

These amendments will affect only those areas currently zoned in Missoula County; no new areas are proposed for zoning in this project. Less than six percent of the county is zoned. The remaining 94% of the land area in Missoula County is not regulated by zoning and will remain unaffected by these changes. The intent of the amendments is to provide improved opportunities for housing and economic growth while protecting quality of life.

The first step in Part 1 involves two sets of documents: Housekeeping Amendments and Capital Changes, both described below. You will have many opportunities to comment on our work up until the close of the Commissioners’ public hearing.

After a series of public outreach forums in January, the changes went to the Planning Board for public hearing on Feb. 21 and to a Commissioner hearing on March 9, 2017, with a goal of adoption of the revised Missoula County Zoning Regulations in time for the 2017 building season. 

Draft “housekeeping amendments” for the Missoula Board of County Commissioners’ consideration on March 9, as amended by Planning Board on February 21. Planning Board's only recommended change is to the definition of “Agriculture” (Section 1.04.3.) on page 11.

MissoulaCurrent Ad2     Public Hearings have been scheduled:

Missoula County Commissioners - March 9, 2017, 2:00 p.m., Room 151 Missoula County Courthouse Annex





Capital Changes

Part of this update that may be of most interest to you includes what we are calling “Capital Changes.” These six specific sections revise zoning in ways that we believe will have the greatest beneficial impact on the greatest number of people.

  • #1 - Pyramidal Zoning
    Shifting to pyramidal zoning will allow residential uses in commercial districts and commercial uses in industrial districts, bringing greater flexibility for developers to build innovative projects more easily.
  • #2 - Home Occupation
    Revising these standards will streamline the review of home occupations, clarifying and expediting the permit process for owners and operators of home-based businesses and ensuring that home-based businesses can operate unencumbered.

  • #3 - Accessory Structures
    Revising these standards will give landowners greater flexibility in the size and placement of accessory structures, and it will exempt some accessory structures from needing a permit.

  • #4 - Building Height
    This change will simplify how building height is measured, making it easier to understand how to measure building height and making it easier for designers to draft building plans for structures that conform to the topography of a site.

  • #5 - Hillside Design Standards
    The changes to these standards will eliminate a setback from sloped areas, bringing flexibility in structure placement on hillsides and enabling daylighting of lower levels. These changes also include a clarification that legal lots that existed prior to hillside zoning have a buildable right.

  • #6 - C-TED (Condominium and Townhome Exemption Developments)
    This new supplemental zoning regulation will allow the use of the condominium and townhome exemption in the zoned portions of the county subdivided in compliance with the Montana Subdivision and Platting Act, thereby providing more opportunity for home ownership in these areas. Map of subdivisions eligible for townhome exemption. 

Housekeeping Amendments

The Housekeeping Amendments address deficiencies in our county zoning to comply with adopted laws and policies as well as match zoning regulations to other departmental regulations. This document is attached as a Word document that you may download and view in an underline/strike-out format or in a clean format. Comment bubbles in the margins explain the reasons and sources for significant Housekeeping Amendments.

We invite you to comment on these documents so the county’s zoning will be a stronger policy document that better reflects the community’s needs. We would be happy to meet with you or your association to discuss these amendments and how we believe they will benefit key stakeholders like you in the county. Contact us if you would like to arrange such a meeting.

County Zoning Map

You can view the current Missoula County Zoning Regulations at

Subsequent steps in this process will begin after the Board of County Commissioners takes action on the amendments in “Part 1.” At that time, we’ll initiate comprehensive changes to address urban (“Part 2”) and rural (”Part 3”) development standards in the County’s zoning regulations, including but not limited to additional revisions to the districts, exceptions, parking, landscaping, nonconformities, violations, and creation of overlay districts. Our goal is to modernize our zoning code and to better serve the public by eliminating “red tape” that is sometimes associated with our current land use policies.

On behalf of CAPS and the Board of County Commissioners, thank you for your time and feedback. We highly value your input and look forward to working alongside with you every step of the way.

Your County Zoning Amendments Team,

Jennie Dixon
(406) 258-4946

Jamie Erbacher
(406) 258-4653

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