It’s baacckk!

Mountain View Commercial Sprawl Subdivision Back Before the Livingston Planning Board on Wednesday August 16. Join Us in Testifying Against it.

What is the better introduction to Livingston for travelers coming from the west?

FPC Presentation Image     

                                                                                                 This?                                                                  Or this!?!

The proposed Mountain View Subdivision would divide 44 acres of land at the western I-90 Interchange near the Printing for Less plant into 24 new lots, 22 of which could be developed for “highway commercial” uses.

Sound familiar?  Yes, it is almost identical to the subdivision proposed a year ago.

Friends of Park County testified against the original subdivision at the September 21, 2022, Livingston Planning Board hearing. We argued that the subdivision violated the letter and the spirit of the City’s 2021 Growth Policy as well as other provisions of state and city subdivision regulations.

You can find a copy of our 2022 testimony here.

The Planning Board voted 6-2 to recommend that the City Commission deny the application.

Friends testified again before the City Commission when it considered the Planning Board’s recommendation.  The Commission voted 3-2 to deny the application on the because the subdivision was inconsistent with several elements of the 2021 Growth Policy, that it would impose additional burdens on taxpayers not covered by the anticipated property tax revenues, that it would increase hazards from fire and traffic and hurt wildlife.

You can see the City’s decision here.

The applicant filed a lawsuit against the city and denounced city officials in The Enterprise.

Now the lawsuit is on pause while Mountain View resubmits a slightly revised subdivision application.  (The most significant of these minor changes are a reduction in the number of lots and an increase in the dedicated open space.)

The City planning staff is recommending approval without explaining what has changed.

The new application and the City’s planning staff report ignore, and in other cases fail to adequately address, the legal and factual defects identified in the City’s 2022 decision, yet the staff is recommending approval.

Since there has been no change in state law or local subdivision regulations and no new relevant information, the City cannot now approve the application without repudiating its prior findings of fact and conclusions of law, admitting its earlier decision was wrong.

It wasn’t.

The City’s “highway commercial” zoning is “anything is allowed” zoning that will hurt downtown and create an ugly sprawling entrance to Livingston.

“Highway commercial” zoning allows motels, restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores and RV parks, exactly the same kind of ugly commercial sprawl that defaces most freeway entrances to cities in Montana.

That is bad enough, but the City’s “highway commercial” zoning also allows professional office buildings, condos, hotels, furniture stores, beauty salons and taverns – businesses that should be part of the historic downtown.  And that is not the full list – “highway commercial” also allows churches, mortuaries, radio stations, veterinary clinics, warehouses, condos and light industrial manufacturing.

If the subdivision is approved, the City will lose control over what happens on the new lots (unless it adopts conditions to those approvals.)  None of those “highway commercial” developments on the new lots would be subject to a public review or a hearing under the City’s regulations.

In addition, the project’s design anticipates extending this commercial development from this island of annexed land, eastward into the area designated for future “mixed use” outside the city limits.  In other words, it sets the stage for even more sprawl.

Friends also believes there is far too much land zoned for commercial development of the type that belongs in downtown Livingston. This zoning diverts investment from downtown needed to keep it economically healthy.

This problem zoning can be addressed when the City updates its zoning ordinance next year.

The property could be used for light industrial use, as originally promised when annexed.

The property is part of an island of city land more than a mile from the city limits.  This island was annexed in 2005 to provide a location for an expansion of Printing for Less, in order to keep its jobs in Livingston. But later the zoning was changed to “highway commercial” which would create a windfall for the owner by subdividing and flipping the property.

Rather than inviting another round of litigation and re-applications, the City could consider approving the application subject to limiting the use on the property to “light industrial” and “warehouse,” which are allowed uses in Highway Commercial zoning.

Development of these uses would be more consistent with the Growth Policy and possibly – although not certainly – with the standards in subdivision laws and regulations addressing public services and transportation safety.

What Friends of Park County is doing and what you can do.

We have submitted written testimony asking the Planning Board to recommend to the City Commission that it deny the application, which you can read here.

Join us testifying against the subdivision at the Livingston Planning Board meeting Wednesday, August 16, at 5:30 PM.

You can participate in person at the Community Room of the City/County Building at 414 E. Callender Street, or participate by Zoom using this link:

Meeting ID: 881 5255 3941

Passcode: 906560 Call in: (669) 900-9128

You can find the agenda and agenda packet here.

You will probably have only three minutes to testify, and that goes by very fast so be succinct and clearly state what you what the City Commission to do.