Developers for a Yellowstone Airport Plaza have begun the process of vetting the community for input on what they would like to see included in the plans, and hear concerns the site might present.

A crew of about seven attended the Belgrade City-County Planning Board meeting on Monday to present their master plan for empty ground between Interstate 90 and Frontage Road on Airway Boulevard. The plan breaks down the construction into six phases for office buildings, retail stores, restaurants and hotels. 

Knife River, a national construction materials and contracting company, has mined the site since 2012, but is now moving their operations off the property. Charter Realty and Development Corporation is in the process of acquiring the property for the development, and hope to close the deal at the end of this year. 

The plan, developers said, is a visual rough draft of what the site could look like. Jason Karp, Belgrade planning director, said that the presentation was an informal review and members of the planning board could ask questions, provide critique and offer suggestions to the developers. 

As for Karp, he liked the idea of what the current gravel pit could become. 

“I kind of see this as a great recycling project,” he said, referring to development on a piece of land that isn’t used for agricultural purposes. 

Karp said he thinks it’s a great place for the city to grow, and that when the city annexed the property they anticipated a development like the one being proposed to happen there. The first two phases are within the city limits, he said, but the rest of the plan would have to be annexed into the city to complete the project. 

“There will be a lot of procedures to go along with this development as we go through it – so strap on your seat belts,” Karp said. 

Dan Zelson, a principal with Charter Realty, introduced his company at the Monday meeting. The goal, he said, is to develop something similar to what preliminary drawings show. 

“We have ideas, but we certainly don’t profess to know what’s the perfect use for the property,” Zelson said. 

With the growth of the airport, a new exit ramp off I-90 and improvements to the roads in the area, Zelson said that it’s a natural time for this property to be developed. The site would bring tax dollars to the community, 

jobs and prevent leakage of dollars from the city to other places, he said. 

“It really provides you with a first-class opportunity to spend dollars within your community and not have to go elsewhere,” Zelson said.

The planning board raised questions about water and sewer hook-ups for the proposed site, traffic flow in and out of the plaza and height of the proposed buildings. The crew answered questions as best they could, and took notes on the comments for later review. 

Scott Bechtle, architect for the development, said the master site plan is one that they hope responds to what the community wants and needs. He said the preliminary vetting would give developers a good idea of what infrastructure is needed in the area to make this proposal work. 

“It’s a living document, and hopefully we’ll improve on it,” he said. “At this point we’re trying to get an idea of what is the density? What are the uses?”

The developers will also be presenting their proposal to the Belgrade City Council at their September 18 meeting.