City closes land loophole 

The City Council closed a loophole Monday that had allowed some developers to cut corners on required parkland.

Parkland dedication applies only to subdivisions larger than two lots. Subdivisions with up to five lots are also exempt as long as each lot holds only a single-family home. All other subdivisions must dedicate land or money toward parks.

The ordinance originally added up parkland based on the size of the lot, not the number of dwelling units. As lot sizes grew larger, parkland dedication requirements shrunk. Jackie Corday, the open space program manager at Missoula Parks and Recreation, says developers have exploited that loophole by constructing large, multi-family apartment complexes on larger lots, minimizing parkland dedication.

The city’s new ordinance amends the old law by figuring parkland by dwelling unit, not by lot size. The formula is a bit complicated, but Corday explained it most succinctly with an example.

On Monday evening, Corday showed the council how the ordinance would have played out in the Flynn Ranch subdivision, a 78-unit complex on five acres. Under the old ordinance, the developer was required to dedicate only 5,200 square feet of land toward parks. Under the new ordinance, the dedication would have increased to one acre—nearly seven times as much parkland.
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