Belgrade, Bozeman and Gallatin County officials are seeking feedback on their draft plan to tackle the rapid growth west of Bozeman.

The Triangle Plan details goals and policies that emphasize compact development, mixed land use and preservation of agricultural land and open space. The plan outlines how Belgrade, Bozeman and Gallatin County can collaborate on projects and services including developing parks and trails, providing emergency services and updating zoning regulations.

“We’re growing like crazy, and the sooner we coordinate, the better,” said Chris Mehl, Bozeman's deputy mayor and member of the Planning Coordination Committee, which created the Triangle Plan.

Coordination will result in cost effective infrastructure development and reduce sprawl, he added.

The Planning Coordination Committee has released a draft of the plan, which can be viewed on the Gallatin County website, and is accepting public comment via email to the planning department, planning@gallatin.mt.gov, until Dec. 6.

The committee is also hosting open houses during which attendees can attendees can read excerpts of the plan, ask questions and provide feedback.

The open houses are at:

  • Monforton School on Nov. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Gallatin Valley YMCA on Nov. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Belgrade City Hall on Nov. 13, from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Gallatin County Courthouse on Nov. 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“We’ve spent the last few years working on what we see as a good way to plan for growth, and now we’re taking it to the people to see if they agree,” said Elizabeth Marum, a member of the Belgrade Planning Board and the Planning Coordination Committee. “You don’t know what you don’t know until you take it to the public.”

In December, the committee will consider revising the Triangle Plan based on the public comments. The committee will bring the final version of the plan to the Belgrade City Council, Bozeman City Commission and the Gallatin County Commission. As the three boards consider the plan, they will each provide time for public comment.

The Triangle Plan has been in the works for five years. Belgrade, Bozeman and Gallatin County formed the Planning Coordination Committee in 2016 based on a 2014 study that indicated coordinated efforts could help the Gallatin Valley address growth. Since then, the committee has met with several groups — including the Gallatin Valley Land Trust, Association of Gallatin Valley Agricultural Irrigators and the Central Valley Fire District — to understand their concerns and to hear their ideas about growth.

“We’ve heard from several groups as we made the plan, but we are rolling this out to the public to make sure we have captured what’s important to the people living in the triangle,” said Don Seifert, a Gallatin County commissioner and member of the Planning Coordination Committee.

It is not clear what the Planning Coordination Committee will do once the three local governments adopt the Triangle Plan. The committee may help implement parts of the plan, such as developing a plan for parks and trails or hosting annual planning discussions on topics like infrastructure and transportation.

“There are a lot of next steps, and we’ll have to see how the (Planning Coordination Committee) fits into them,” Marum said.

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