Council approves ordinance on zoning for shelters, soup kitchens


MISSOULA, Mont. - The Missoula City Council approved, on a 10 to 1 vote, an ordinance that will prohibit new homeless shelters, soup kitchens and similar property uses until amendments are made to give City Council more say on where the establishments go.

The council heard fro the public Monday night about the ordinance.

The public hearing stemmed from a debate over whether a new soup kitchen will be allowed in a busy Missoula neighborhood. The Union Gospel Mission wants to put up a meal center on Broadway.

Stuart Hilleboe is the owner of Aspen Sound and the building on Broadway next to the proposed soup kitchen site. He hopes the interim zoning ordinance passes.

"That would allow the council people to put conditions on the use of this property," said Hilleboe. "The zoning would protect the neighbors and in long run make it better for the end user."

People commented on both sides of the issue at the public hearing.

Austin Day lives in the neighborhood and said, "I do not support the ordinance issue. All of them that I have met, I have seen only one or two of the homeless that have actually been violent in my experience and I have worked with about 100 of them."

Westside resident Ben Schmidt adds, "I look forward to your unanimous vote in favor of the motion and I would like to say thank you to the west side for coming together so powerfully to speak with you in an honest and respectful manner. I look forward to continuing to be a part of the west side neighborhood."

During tonight's discussion, council members said the approval will help them add conditions that will address worries nearby residents have concerning loitering, urination and other intimidating behaviors.