Residents of Churchill and Amsterdam, the Dutch settlements southwest of Belgrade, are being asked to join monthly public meetings that will eventually help shape future growth in the pastoral farming communities.

The Amsterdam Rural Fire Department is hosting a community meeting Thursday, along with the Gallatin County Planning Department, to address transportation concerns, Fire Board Chairman Del VanDenberg said.

The monthly gathering is part of series of meetings that will lay the groundwork for a neighborhood plan slated to be drawn up later this year, county planner Warren Vaughn said.

“We’re starting a little slow with these ... meetings,” he said.

Representatives from the Gallatin County Road Department and the Montana Department of Transportation will speak about traffic issues confronting the Dutch community, Vaughn said. County and state officials will discuss a wide variety of road concerns, including the often- contentious debate about the intersection of Jackrabbit Lane and Amsterdam Road.

After the presentation, county and state officials will hold a question-and- answer session, Vaughn said.

“The main idea is to educate everybody,” Vaughn said. “The idea is that we are all learning about the issues together.”

As the county grows, traffic is becoming a concern to everyone, VanDenberg said. New subdivisions are being approved monthly, and a neighborhood plan will help steer growth in a manageable way.

“One of the larger impacts to the Churchill and greater Belgrade area is the increased amount of traffic,” he said. “It’s a real hot-button issue.”

The more people involved in the process, the stronger the message will be to county officials, VanDenberg said.

“We hope to move the community into a more proactive stance,” he said. “Being reactive, you don’t really satisfy everybody. Proactive means we take a step before a large problem develops.”