Missoula County is working on updating its zoning laws and some major changes are on the way, for the first time in over 40 years. According to Missoula County planner Jennie Dixon the changes are intended to help make the building permit process easier.

"We are in the process of amending our zoning regulations, hopefully in time for the 2017 building permit season, focusing primarily on some key changes that will improve peoples lives that are trying to do some construction," said Dixon. "We are looking to eliminate some red tape and promote economic development in portions of the county."

There are six big changes planned, including a shift in where residential and commercial buildings can be placed.

"One of the changes that we're proposing is going to allow residential development in commercial areas, which will open up some opportunity there, and then allowing commercial development in industrial areas, whereas right now, it is pretty rigidly defined: you can only do commercial in commercial zones and Industrial in industrial zones," Dixon said.

Other changes would allow larger garages on residential properties, make condominiums more practical, and address some setback rules. Dixon says the changes do not change local rules dealing with the controversial issue of infill and density.

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