Belgrade, Bozeman and Gallatin County representatives have unveiled a draft plan for addressing rapid growth in the area bounded by the Frontage Road, 19th Avenue, Huffine Lane and Jackrabbit Lane.

The Triangle Community Plan outlines goals and policies for expansion that prioritize compact development and support mixed land use.

“This is a way to get us on the same page, so we can help each other, work together and move in the same direction,” said Belgrade City Councilwoman Kris Menicucci, who helped draft the plan.

The plan touches on a number of topics — emergency services, infrastructure, natural resource protection, agriculture and schools.

The plan also lists policies for local governments to consider as they manage development. The policies include ensuring emergency services are in place before projects are approved, emphasizing non-motorized transportation options, maintaining water quality as water and sewer districts expand and prioritizing open space, parks and wildlife habitat.

“Because we’re growing, our planning extends beyond the borders of Belgrade into the county,” Menicucci said. “We need the committee and the plan to ensure we take steps that make sense and are consistent between the city and the county.”

Bozeman Deputy Mayor Chris Mehl, who also helped draft the plan, said the policies in the plan will save taxpayers money by ensuring that growth happens effectively and efficiently, will protect the environment and will provide social benefits like reduced traffic and walkable neighborhoods.

To assist local governments in implementing the policies, the Planning Coordination Committee, which created the plan, may host discussions to plan and facilitate projects related to land use, capital improvements and infrastructure.

The committee also has and will continue to initiate joint government projects, such as creating an interactive map that overlays areas where different government agencies have jurisdiction and working on an agreement between Bozeman and Gallatin County regarding voluntary annexation of properties close to the city’s borders.

Local governments likely will use the plan as a guide as they review development projects and work to address planning issues that cross jurisdictional boundaries. The Gallatin County Commission will incorporate the plan into its existing growth policy, which looks at development across the whole county.

“The plan isn’t regulatory, but it helps inform our regulatory policies,” said Gallatin County Commissioner Don Seifert, who participated in drafting the plan. “The plan helps us meet our goal of providing a continuity of services across the county in an efficient manner.”

The committee, which includes government staff, planning board members and elected officials from Belgrade, Bozeman and Gallatin County, based the plan on discussions it has had with groups such as fire districts, school districts and Montana State University to understand goals, needs and visions for the future.

Committee members now plan to present the draft to these groups to solicit their feedback before asking for public comment in the fall. A final version of the plan will likely be available by the end of the year.

Belgrade, Bozeman and Gallatin County formed the committee in 2014 after a study indicated that coordinated efforts could help the Gallatin Valley absorb and plan for growth. The committee formed two years later.

Perrin Stein can be reached at 406-582-2648 or at Follow her on Twitter @PerrinStein.

Perrin Stein is the county, state and federal government reporter for the Chronicle.

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