Planning Board OKs new subdivision

Proposal now goes before City Commission
Johnathan Hettinger —
Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Livingston City Commission will consider a new 31-acre subdivision on the west side of town on Tuesday, after the city Planning Board approved the plans on Thursday night.

The Paradise Ridge Subdivision, proposed for across Highway 10 from PrintingForLess, would be a six-phase, 63-lot development. The area is zoned as highway commercial, which allows multi-family residential, mixed-use and commercial uses.

However, developer Bapit Capital, associated with Arizona-based Junto Affordable Housing, has expressed an intent to make the subdivision largely affordable housing.

The first phase of development, which has a large lot, will likely include an overnight trailer park, like a KOA or some other business that could accommodate about 70 trailers.

According to city documents, the lots would contain up to 272 new residential developments, including 24 single-family houses and 248 other residential units.

The Planning Board, which was meeting for the first time since being re-created by the City Commission last week, discussed whether the proposed development fits with the public’s vision for Livingston, including whether highway commercial zoning should include housing. Other members expressed concerns about the proximity to the interstate, railroad tracks and potential traffic issues the development would create. The developer said they would consider putting deed restrictions on the properties to ensure they remain residential.

The board recommended the development by a vote of four yes’s, one no, and two abstentions.

Planning Board Chairman Scott Weissbeck said he voted in favor of the development because it is an allowed use under the zoning, and it would be “difficult” to vote against it.

City Commissioner Melissa Nootz abstained from voting but said she thinks the subdivision contradicts the spirit of the growth policy, which the city plans to update later this year.

“I get the sense this is not what the community wants based on the documents I had in front of me,” Nootz said.

Nootz will vote on the subdivision Tuesday, along with the rest of the commission.

“I know I have to vote next week, so I just think it’s important to have that conversation with other commissioners.”

Peter Fox, who is the county representative to the board, also abstained. The meeting was his last, as he is moving out of Park County and will no longer be eligible to be on the board. Fox said he had some concerns about a residential development that far from the city center.

“The project meets the letter of the law, but does it meet the spirit of it? Is highway commercial really intended for a housing development? A project that is chiefly residential housing? That’s the core question I think,” Fox said.

The city Zoning Commission would consider any changes to highway commercial zoning.

At the meeting, Weisbeck was elected chair of the board and Kate McInnerney was elected vice chair.

The seven-member Planning Board was re-created by the City Commission after the city discovered it should likely have a separate planning board and zoning commission under state statutes.