The Belgrade City Council put off a decision last week on whether or not to adopt the new Growth Policy and Parks Plan at the request of city officials due to concerns aired by Gallatin County officials.
The county has concerns over some density suggestions, deemed “residential low density,” in the southern portion of the growth plan along with outlying areas on the periphery without a designation, County Planning Director Sean O’Callaghan said. Since the land in question is technically in the county, county officials governing the area want to further review the city’s policy, County Commissioner Don Seifert said.
The growth policy covers a circular 4.5-mile area around the city that gives guidelines for future land uses in the area, according to city records. The policy lays the groundwork for zoning decisions, though implementing regulations is a years-long process, Planning Director Jason Karp said.
O’Callaghan also said clarity is needed when development projects come under review.
“What something means versus what something says is going to be a challenge in administering the document,” he said. “It’s not like you adopt the growth policy and then the next day you have a zoning proposal that’s ready to roll out there. That process takes time. In the interim period the growth policy is going to carry a lot of weight with respect to proposed subdivisions and things like that.”
Karp said he is aware of the county’s concerns and looks forward to further explaining the document in a joint meeting set for today.
“It’s very amendable and has to be adaptable,” he said. “One mistake people make on growth policy future land use maps is they try to treat them like a zoning map and they absolutely not a zoning map. It’s broadbased suggestions to consider when you’re developing other regulations like your zoning regulations or subdivision regulations.”
In the meantime, Karp said it’s best for the city council to wait before approving the document. Once approved by the council, any changes made by the county after the fact would trigger the public process and require the city to “start the process all over again,” Karp told the council last week.