Gallatin County Courthouse File

The Gallatin County Courthouse is shown in this August 2018 file photo.

Gallatin County has launched an online survey to gather public input as part of its efforts to update its growth policy.

The policy was created in 2003 and provides a framework for land-use decisions including subdivision approvals, changes to zoning regulations and prioritizing infrastructure projects. The policy outlines demographic projections through 2030 and lists goals including limiting sprawl, developing adequate transportation systems and providing a healthy environment for residents.

“Things change quickly, so having a current document is important,” said planning director Sean O’Callaghan.

The update to the growth policy will include public responses to questions like “what do you love about Gallatin County” and “what would you improve about Gallatin County.” O’Callaghan sees respondents addressing issues like transportation, housing affordability and open space in their answers.

To collect public comments, the Gallatin Planning Department has released a short mobile survey on, which residents can access with the code 13-69-70, and a longer version on

The Planning Department also will conduct one-on-one interviews and host public events, including a booth outside the courthouse during the Sweet Pea Parade on Saturday.

State law requires counties to review their growth policy every five years to determine if an update is needed. Gallatin County worked on its first update in 2014 when it was experiencing slower growth. As such, the update didn’t address the rapid growth that has occurred in more recent years, O’Callaghan said. The county ultimately didn’t adopt the 2014 update. The new update will likely address the growth the county has seen and will continue seeing going forward.

The Gallatin County Commission uses the growth policy to inform decisions such as whether a given construction project fits in an area and whether it aligns with the public’s goals and desires for the county, said commissioner Don Seifert.

“It’s an overarching guiding document that shows us the public’s will,” he said. “Updates are important because they show how views are changing and help us respond.”

The county’s new long-range planner will oversee the growth policy update.

The county hasn’t had a long-range planner for a few years. With the new position, the planning department will focus more on projects like the Triangle Community Plan, which outlines policies for the rapidly growing area west of Bozeman, and could assist places like Gooch Hill West and Gallatin Gateway with updating their neighborhood plans.

“Because of regulations, we have deadlines we have to meet … taking the majority of our time,” O’Callaghan said. “But it’s also important to look at the bigger picture.”

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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