In December 2016, KettleHouse Brewing and Logjam Presents announced a grand new 4,000-capacity amphitheater to open in May at the Bonner Property Development site on the old Stimson Mill. The KettleHouse Amphitheater has already booked some big acts, including Ween and Slayer, for the upcoming summer concert series.
But as far as Missoula County is concerned, the amphitheater still needs a green light. Zoning regulations currently on the books don't allow for mixed-use models such as the brewery/concert venue, according to Jennie Dixon, land-use planner at the county's Community and Planning Services. She says KettleHouse hasn't yet applied for a permit from the county to operate the amphitheater, though she expects to receive the application in the next few weeks.
"We don't really have an answer yet for how they're going to fit out there," Dixon says.
That's because the county's decades-old zoning regulations, written long before Ween self-released its first cassette tape in 1985, follow an outdated mode of single-use planning. The Bonner site is zoned for industrial use—e.g., a brewing facility—but not for additional commercial uses, like a concert venue. But as part of an upcoming overhaul to county zoning regulations, Dixon and other CAPS staff are proposing a multi-use model that allows commingling of business and residential uses. KettleHouse owner Tim O'Leary wrote a letter supporting the change. (O'Leary could not be reached for comment by the Indy by press time.)
Neva Hassanein, a UM professor and member of the county Planning Board, helped draft the new zoning plan. She says that aside from the benefits to businesses like KettleHouse, multi-use zoning allows for more walkable neighborhoods with amenities close to homes.
"This makes it possible for people to do things like walk to the store if they just need to pick something up easily, or easily access commercial enterprises near their homes, rather than relying on a car," Hassanein says.
Hassanein joined the Planning Board in early 2016, after criticizing how the county has handled agricultural regulations. She says she hopes people pay more attention to the county's zoning process, which will be ongoing for years.
"These planning questions shape what our everyday lives are like," she says. "They seem abstract and difficult to understand, and yet it makes a difference in what our ... community looks like in the future."
The Board of County Commissioners has already held public hearings on the changes, and a final vote is scheduled for March 9. If the zoning changes are approved, they'll take effect by April 8. Dixon says that under those new regs, KettleHouse's amphitheater could be categorized as a conditional commercial use, a temporary/ seasonal use, or an accessory use.
Due to what turned out to be incomplete information available to us during the story’s reporting and editing, “County to get zoning overhaul” (March 9) inadvertently conveyed a misleading suggestion that the KettleHouse Amphitheater currently under construction in Bonner had yet to clear administrative and permitting hurdles necessary to the venue’s construction and the booking of acts there. That’s not the case. As Logjam Presents president Nick Checota has since clarified, Logjam—the owner and operator of the amphitheater—possesses both written and verbal confirmation from the county of Logjam’s longstanding compliance with the relevant regulations and requirements. Checota’s clarification is attached here. The Independent regrets contributing to any confusion, and we’re pleased to have the opportunity to correct the misimpression.