Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Geography

Committee Chair

Sarah J. Halvorson

Commitee Members

Jeffrey Gritzner, Len Broberg


land development, rural development, Rural planning, subdivision


University of Montana


Missoula County, Montana, located in the western portion of the state along its border with Idaho, consists of the City of Missoula and a number of unincorporated population centers extending outward from the urban area. The former benefits from typical urban services and faces land use planning issues typical of city locales, including public transportation, brownfields and infill development, and enhancement of the urban core. The latter areas, by virtue of their rural nature, are the subject of an entirely different series of land use planning conversations. The unincorporated areas of the county, in towns such as Seeley Lake, Florence, Huson, and Frenchtown, consider land use planning issues in the context of impacts to water quality and wildlife, distance from services, and preservation of open space and agricultural land. When subdivisions of property are proposed in these areas, the proposals are evaluated by a set of criteria seeking to address these contexts, thereby addressing those qualities that for many County residents define the property’s rurality. Three case studies consisting of two subdivision proposals and a County effort to pinpoint rural residential fire protection requirements are analyzed from the point of view of the assigned case planner. The successes and failures, as well as the strengths and weaknesses, of each case are examined, and the outcomes are situated in the context of the larger surrounding area. The analysis sheds light on the often preventative role of the planner in rural subdivision planning in Missoula County and touches on the difficulties encountered in reviewing land development proposals in the area.



© Copyright 2009 John Michael Newman