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Fourth Element Finished – Committee Sprints Through Fifth

Swan Valley Regional Planning Committee


September 21, 2017

SWAN VALLEY - The Swan Valley Regional Planning Committee worked through the final sections of the Housing Element and completed the Transportation Element of the Growth Plan at their meeting Sept. 13.

The SVRPC addressed the goals, policies and actions of the fourth element entitled Housing. The committee voted to change the word “ensure” to “support” having adequate housing now and in the future in the first goal.

They voted to accept the edit to the second goal which referred to adding affordable housing in the new development review process along with natural resource goals of the plan.

In the policy section, the committee voted to reword the second policy to read “subdivisions”, instead of “cluster subdivisions”, and other developments designed for alternative housing types. They added to “meet the standards previously outlined in the plan” which are found in the Land Use Element of the draft plan.

In the Action section, the committee accepted the edit that read affordable housing could be provided by encouraging the partnership of local government and the private sector.

In the Transportation Element, the SVRPC changed the width of Highway 83 to 28 feet instead of 24 and included that there is a 12-foot travel lane with a two-foot shoulder on each side taken from a comment from a Montana Department of Transportation employee. They also added that because the planning area is between two mountain ranges there are no highway east/west connections.

The committee agreed to rewrite the paragraph in the Highway Speeds and Safety section to include the most recent speed study conducted between July 2009 and October 2012. It reads that many residents and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks objected to the MDT conclusion that a 55 miles per hour nighttime speed limit was not supported on Highway 83.

This was supported by FWP Wildlife Biologist Jay Kolbe’s statement in the Aug. 1, 2013 Seeley Swan Pathfinder article “Speed Limit Recommendation on Highway 83.” Kolbe said that fatal animal-vehicle collisions declined 34 percent following posting of 55 mph nighttime limit. Kolbe continued that in the most recent study in 2010-2012 showed fewer lethal collisions with wildlife while the deer population was on the rise. It concludes that community consensus appears to favor a lower nighttime limit along with wildlife crossings that separate wildlife from vehicles making it safer for both. The paragraph also suggests improvements to infrastructure as the number of vehicles and cyclist rise on Highway 83.

In the School Safety section, the committee voted to add that visible law enforcement is an important factor in safety along with extending a no-passing zone adjacent to the school, flashing lights and lower speed limits during school hours.

The committee voted to delete excess verbiage in the Road Maintenance section. It now reads that there is nearly 18 miles of roads that Missoula County maintains in the planning area. The roads are plowed, graded, graveled and dust suppression is applied.

The Transit and Para-transit section was rewritten to include that transportation is available for both veterans and senior citizens of the Upper Swan Valley. These residents can use the Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans Transportation Service and IRide, a recent joint effort between the Swan Valley Senior Citizens and the Seeley Lake Community Foundation.

The committee voted to keep the original Transportation Goals wording which encourages public transportation and a high level of access to the Upper Swan Valley. They agreed to the original wording in the Policies that requires developers to make road improvements in land development that maintains the rural character of the area. They also agreed with the policy that encouraged work with the local MDT officials for improvements that insure safety for motorists and wildlife.

In the Actions section, the committee voted to eliminate the previously discussed topics that include wildlife vehicle collisions studies, school safety zones, speed and wildlife crossing They added the need to finding other funding sources besides the county for dust abatement on Missoula County roads. They agreed to add a request for a more visible presence of the highway patrol near the Swan Valley School during school hours.

The SVRPC scheduled two meetings in October to attempt to finish the sixth element, Public Facilities and Services. The meetings will be held Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 at the Swan Valley Community Hall at 7 p.m.


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