Belgrade officials want to hear from community members, business owners and local leaders on Tuesday, as they continue to consider what should be included in the master plans that will govern future residential, commercial and recreational development in the city for years to come.
Drafts of the proposed Growth Policy Update and Parks and Recreation Master Plan will be presented to the public at the open house, which is scheduled for May 21 at the Belgrade Community Library from 5-7 p.m. This is the second public meeting the city has held this spring to hear citizen comment, but citizen input has been sought all along, said Jason Karp, Belgrade’s planning director. He said that comments collected in meetings and through an online survey were given to consultants as guidelines before the plans were drafted.
Karp emphasized that the plans are more than just wish lists. Once approved by the Belgrade City Council and Gallatin County Commission, all zoning decisions, subdivision improvements or commercial developments proposed in the city will have to comply with the regulations stipulated within.
Similarly, when funding becomes available for recreational facilities through the collection of impact fees, all projects will have to fit into the Parks and Recreation plan.
The new Growth Policy will include an updated land use map and changes to the zoning code, Karp said. It also will include a number of updated goals and objectives.
“The draft has ideas for making downtown (Main Street) more urban,” he said, adding that the plan currently in place does not address that detail.
A more urban downtown would comprise denser development, public parking lots or structures, and residential housing in the business district, which is a type of housing that Belgrade doesn’t currently have, Karp said. Such a model, theoretically, would make downtown businesses more viable.
“If people live near downtown, they’re more likely to do business there,” he said.
He added that a more vibrant urban core also might make the area more appealing to visitors, such as those who fly into the airport, but tend to pass right through Belgrade on their way to other destinations.
“One of the hopes with downtown is to catch a few of those dollars, if we can make our town attractive,” he said.
The recreation plan includes a detailed inventory of the amenities Belgrade already has, so that underserved areas can be more easily identified and future needs addressed. Among the most common requests made by citizens were trails and connectivity, a public swimming pool, and the development of more parkland, Karp said.
Tiffany Maierle, president of the Belgrade Community Coalition, urged people to turn out for Tuesday’s meeting to talk about those and other things they would like to see.
“People need to come out and share their hopes and dreams,” she said.
Karp hopes that after people have a chance to look over the drafts, they will draw their own conclusions and tell city officials what they think.
The final draft of the plan should be completed and adopted early next winter, Karp said.