HELENA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS – SUPPORT OF HELENA CITY ORDINANCE PROPOSED CHANGES – Upcoming Vote 1.13.20
Item# 1 – Dimensional Standards
Ordinance No. 3278 increasing lot coverage in the R-1 (Residential) and R-2 (Residential) Zoning Districts; increasing maximum building height in the R-1 (Residential), R-2 (Residential), R-3 Residential), R-4 (Residential-Office), and B-2 (General Commercial) Zoning Districts; and eliminating minimum lot sizes for multiple dwelling units in the R-3, R-4/R-O Zoning Districts by amending Chapter 4 of Title 11 of the Helena City Code.
Present Situation: On December 3, 2019, the City of Helena Zoning Commissioners voted unanimously (5:0) to recommend approval of an ordinance to change a range of district dimensional standards by amending Chapter 4 of Title 11 of the Helena City Code in an effort to increase housing density in the city. This was followed by a first passage hearing on the ordinance by the City Commission on December 16, 2019, wherein the City Commission voted unanimously (4:0) to approve the ordinance. No one spoke in opposition to the ordinance at either hearing.
The district dimensional standard changes proposed are as follows:
- Increase lot coverage allowance in the R-1 and R-2 (Residential) Districts from 30% with an additional 5% for a porch to 40%
- Increase the maximum height allowances as follows:
- R-1/R-2 (Residential) Districts increase from 24 feet to 30 feet
- R-3 (Residential) District increase from 24 feet to 36 feet
- R-4 (Residential) and R-O (Residential-Office) increase from 36 feet to 42 feet
- B-2 (General Commercial District) increase from 42 feet to 60 feet
- Remove lot area requirements as follows:
- R-3 (Residential) District from 2,000 square feet per dwelling unit for multiple dwelling units to zero (0) square feet
- R-4 (Residential)/R-O (Residential-Office) Districts from 1,200 square feet per dwelling unit for multiple dwelling units to zero (0) square feet
Proposal/Objective: To increase housing development and density within the city by removing regulatory barriers. With the recommended dimensional standard changes noted above, the City will address housing goals by increasing dwelling unit supply while also protecting the character and quality of the city’s neighborhoods.
Item #2 – Waiver of Discretionary Fees on Affordable Housing
ORDINANCE NO. _____
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING THE HELENA CITY CODE TO ALLOW FOR THE DISCRETIONARY WAIVER OF CITY FEES ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECTS TO BE CONSTRUCTED IN THE CITY OF HELENA
Consider final passage of an Ordinance amending the Helena City Code to allow for the discretionary waiver of City fees on affordable housing projects to be constructed in the City of Helena.
The Helena City Commission established as a priority the creation and/or rehabilitation of workforce housing into the Helena community and have developed a housing strategy to address some of these issues. The consideration of the waiver or partial waiver of building-related fees is part of this affordable housing strategy.
The purpose of this ordinance is to establish a mechanism for the City of Helena to provide an incentive for developers to provide affordable housing units within the City. The mechanism being proposed is the waiver of building related fees.
Move to approve final passage of an Ordinance amending the Helena City Code to allow for the discretionary waiver of City fees on affordable housing projects to be constructed in the City of Helena.
Item # 3 – Conditional Use Permit (CUP) Language change
Consider final passage of Ordinance No. 3279 revising the Conditional Use Permit
(CUP) process by amending Chapter 3 of Title 11 of the Helena City Code to provide
better guidance for applicants and decision makers.
Proposal/Objective: The amendments to Chapter 3 of Title 11 are identified in the attached Ordinance. Five (5) major areas impacted by the ordinance are:
1. CUP Review Standards. The review criteria language is changed from “significantly increase” or will not “significantly reduce or impair” to will not “adversely impact.”
2. CUP Impact Evaluation. The existing factors have been reorganized and clarified, as well as new factors have been added. A greater emphasis on impacts to adjacent properties and the larger neighborhood is a new focus. Clearer direction for considering public input is also included.
3. CUP Mitigating Conditions. Possible conditions of approval are enumerated in the chapter to provide more direction for the Zoning and City Commissions. Although additional conditions may be imposed depending on the impacts, this list is expected to be beneficial to the applicant and can help provide predictability in the process.
4. Changing Conditions. The fourth change is intended to fill a gap in the limitations to a CUP approval as it relates to changes in the site plan as a CUP is developed. It is important to have a process in place to be able to determine if a “material change” has occurred in a CUP. This change will allow staff to work with applicants to keep CUPs up to date.
5. CUP Revocation. The fifth substantive change to the ordinance comes in the section regarding the ability to revoke a CUP. The proposed Ordinance would include a new process with standards to revoke a CUP that is not in compliance with the approved conditions or has ceased to operate on the property.
Advantage: The proposed changes give the Zoning Commission and the City Commission the ability to vet CUP applications against a new standard of “adverse impacts” instead of “significantly increase,” and will help clarify the chapter by updating the language to match the new standards and factors. The proposed language more clearly relates back to the potential impacts on the adjacent neighborhoods.
HAR is in support of all three of these proposed ordinance changes which enhances the Association’s ability to conduct real estate business in the Helena community. Please contact the Mayor and City Commission and recommend a “Yea” Vote on each of these measures.
The contact information is below: Thank you for your support
The Mayor and City Commission hearing and voting on both proposals on 1.13.20 are as follows:
- Mayor Wilmot Collins
- Commissioner Andres Haladay
- Commissioner Heather O’Loughlin
- Commissioner Emily Dean
- Commissioner Sean Logan
Please e-mail your support of these measures to:
This will get your vote in support of these measures to the Mayor, Commissioners and key City Officials
Thank you and please Register your Support of these measures.