The Helena City Commission on Monday unanimously agreed to table the annexation of nearly 59 acres on the city's west side and extend the deadline to decide on a 170-unit major subdivision by 60 days.
The Westside Woods subdivision proposed by Sussex Construction and its subsidiary Eco Development would sit southwest of the intersection of Granite Avenue and Hauser Boulevard.
The commissioners expressed concern over traffic congestion on Granite Avenue and surrounding roads, as the expected 2,869 additional vehicle trips over the residential streets would mostly converge around Kessler Elementary School in order to reach Highway 12 without an additional egress onto the highway.
By accepting the developer's request for extension, the commission hopes city staff and the developer can come to a solution with the Montana Department of Transportation to allow for an approach onto Highway 12 directly from the development to alleviate traffic congestion on Granite Avenue.
The Montana Department of Transportation has previously said such an approach would likely not be feasible, citing poor sight lines.
The state agency did not formally provide comment on the proposed subdivision as requested by city staff.
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Commissioners Andres Haladay and Heather O'Loughlin will no longer be on the commission by the time the proposed annexation and subdivision return for a decision.
"I think we all want to get this right," O'Loughlin said. "If there is an opportunity to get this right with a little more time, I'm comfortable with it."
Haladay echoed O'Loughlin's sentiments.
"I'm willing to forgo the opportunity to vote no on it, which I would in 30 days," he said, referencing an earlier proposal to table the issue for only a month. "We wouldn't get anything done, and I'd be back here voting no again because I do think this development is good, and I do think we need this housing in the city, and I do think it needs to be a better product."
The commission's move to table the annexation, and subsequently three other agenda items related to the subdivision itself, pushes the matter into late January 2022.