Gianforte signs Missoula lawmaker’s zoning bill, slew of other housing bills

David Erickson

Gov. Greg Gianforte on Wednesday signed four zoning reform bills that he said “encourage responsible, proactive housing development and protect rural areas and ag land from sprawl.”

One of the bills was Senate Bill 407, sponsored by Sen. Shane Morigeau, D-Missoula.

The new law “streamlines permitting for commercial and residential development by eliminating local design review by volunteer boards, reducing costs associated with permitting delays,” Gianforte noted.

Morigeau’s bill requires that the determination of compliance with local design review standards must be conducted by employees of the municipality and the municipality may not require review by an external board. It does not apply to historic preservation boards.

“The purpose was to streamline the construction process and the design review process, which had morphed into something more burdensome,” Morigeau said. “This (previous design review) approval process bogs down builders. I’ve been told it can increase costs on a project by 25%. This was a common-sense piece of legislation.”

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