Waiting, waiting, waiting...

Cars back up along Main Street, above, at the four-way stop in downtown Belgrade. 

The Gallatin County Commission approved Belgrade’s new growth policy and parks and recreation plan on Tuesday, setting in motion work to update and expand zoning regulations in the growing city.

Belgrade will use the two documents to guide efforts to revitalize downtown, revise zoning codes and extend zoning to areas bordering the city, said planning director Jason Karp.

Because Belgrade and Gallatin County share jurisdiction over the area immediately outside city limits, the two governments will collaborate on new zoning regulations. The Belgrade Planning Department will also hire a consultant to assist with the work.

“I know zoning has been hanging out there for a long time, but it’s a task worth doing and involving the community (in the process) is what it’s all about,” County Commissioner Don Seifert said.

Belgrade has spent months working with CTA, a consulting firm, to create the growth policy, which outlines projected land use and population growth for the next few decades and details long-term projects, such as expanding affordable housing and updating roads to reduce traffic congestion.

The policy also includes a future land use map — which county commissioners initially critiqued — that shows Belgrade will focus on developing land between existing subdivisions and commercial developments rather than on new construction outside of the downtown area.

Belgrade has incorporated its first-ever parks and recreation plan into the growth policy. The plan details projects including improving connections between parks and trails, adding new bike paths and building an aquatics center.

The policy will also eventually include the Triangle Plan, a document that outlines future development in the growing area between Belgrade, Bozeman and Four Corners.

The Planning Coordination Committee — which includes Belgrade, Bozeman and Gallatin County officials —is finalizing the plan now and will soon bring it to the Belgrade City Council, Bozeman City Commission and Gallatin County Commission for review.

The growth policy and parks and recreation plans will now go before the Belgrade City Council for final approval.

Belgrade last updated its growth policy in 2006 and plans to amend the new one as development continues over the next several years.

“It’s going to be a living, breathing document,” Karp said.