City Hall File

The sun shines on Bozeman City Hall in this file photo from July 2020.

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Some members of the city’s many citizen advisory boards say they are supportive of consolidating the boards, though they are wary of some aspects of the effort.

A proposal to limit board members to two, two-year terms is raising concern, as are some of the specifics of the consolidation, which would combine the 40 advisory boards into six general boards, leaving a few as standalone boards.

City commissioners are set to discuss the consolidation proposal at their June 22 meeting.

Several board members said they support the overall goal of board consolidation, but are unsure about the proposal.

“I think it’s very appropriate for the city to look at ways that the board input can be provided more efficiently,” Design Review Board member Mark Hufstetler said. “But I’m not sure they’re looking at it in a way that is actually going to accomplish that.”

The consolidation proposal is also coming with a proposed change to how the boards operate, including aligning the boards work better with the commission’s strategic plan and streamlining communication between the boards, city staff and commission members.

Some board members aren’t sure the proposal will better their work.

“The reality is, unless there are some strategic changes in the way boards can and should communicate with the city, I think just the opposite will happen with the consolidated city boards,” said Community Affordable Housing Advisory Board member Kevin Thane.

Thane said he doesn’t think the consolidation proposal will solve the issue of boards having limited opportunities to communicate with city staff and commissioners on issues.

Several people also raised issues with the proposal to limit board members to two, two year terms, which Mihelich said in an email would allow for “fresh perspective and hold space for new voices to engage in city work and policy.”

Some board members said it sometimes takes a year or two for a new board member to get acquainted with how the board works.

“I think that ... greatly does away with the history and perspective that long-term members can bring to the table,” Thane said.

One of the most significant proposed changes to the board structure would be the combination of the planning, zoning, design review, historic preservation boards into a Community Development Board.

Several members of the Planning Board said they support the change, saying it would give board members a say in all aspects of a development rather than just the zoning or building plans.

Planning Board chair Henry Happel said he also supports combining planning and zoning boards. Board member Richard Rudnicki said having a consistent group of people giving input on development proposals would be helpful.

“Right now the planning board is focused on being consistent with the growth policy and the zoning board is focused on consistency with zoning, and those two things may not always align,” Rudnicki said. “So having one shared voice might allow you to have that perspective of both things at once and find a better middle ground.”

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Nora Shelly can be reached at nshelly@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2607.

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