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Gallatin County growth plan adopted | BDC

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Gallatin County growth plan adopted
By Alex Miller Bozeman Daily Chronicle Staff Writer Sep 21, 2021

Gallatin County’s new growth policy has been approved by the Gallatin County Commission and is set to provide guidance for growth and development in the county for the next two decades.

The new land use policy, called “Envision Gallatin: Tomorrow Together,” picks up where the last version, which has been used since 2003, left off. One of the largest differences between the two is more detailed definitions and applications of the state-required criteria for subdivision developments in the county.

The criteria — which developers and planners need to take into account while planning for a new subdivisions or adding onto an existing ones, according to state law — includes considering development impact on agriculture, agricultural water facilities, access to local services, the natural environment, wildlife, wildlife habitat and public health and safety.

Gallatin County’s growth policy is not a regulatory document but instead provides guidance on what applying the state’s development criteria looks like at the ground level.

About 53% of the land in Gallatin County falls under the scope of the new policy. The rest of the land is under the jurisdiction of local, state and federal governments.

Public involvement played a large role throughout the two-year process of creating a new growth policy. Garrett McAllister, county planner and project lead, said that public comment was sought on multiple occasions to better inform the policies in the document.Two major concerns in the public comment were wildlife and wildlife habitat issues.

The new policy is packed with maps to accompany the seven criteria, including maps that provide data on wildlife migration, habitat and the value of land for wildlife throughout the county.

Much of the concern focused on increased vehicle traffic and the effect that would have on wildlife. McAllister said a solution would be to encourage coordination between the county, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Montana Department of Transportation to identify key corridors for wildlife travel.

“As traffic increases in the county and more people move here, and there’s more and more wildlife conflicts with vehicles … it’s something we really wanted to be more intentional about,” McAllister said.

The document projects that if Gallatin County’s population grows at 2.75% annually, there could be over 200,000 people living in the county by 2040. McAllister said a priority for the growth policy is to generate a future land-use map.Development of a future land use map — which the policy indicates could take up to five years — would be part of a community-wide discussion, like where development density makes sense and how to protect open space, farmland and agriculture, McAllister said.

While the primary criteria applies directly to new subdivisions, the goals and policies apply to any and all development in the county, McAllister said. Whether it’s a single home being built or a commercial development, the document is relevant.“The goal here is for this document to be used on a daily basis, I didn’t want to adopt this thing and have it be put on a shelf,” McAllister said.

Source: Gallatin County growth plan adopted | County |