Gallatin County approves ‘triangle’ plan to address growth

7/30/2020 Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Perrin Stein

After years of work, the Gallatin County Commission has adopted a plan to guide future development in the rapidly growing area between Bozeman, Belgrade and Four Corners.

The document — known as the Triangle Community Plan — details policies for the area generally bordered by the Gallatin River, Frontage Road, Blackwood Road and 19th Avenue.

The plan emphasizes compact, contiguous development, building efficient transportation systems, protecting the environment, creating town centers and preserving agriculture and open space.

“This is something that will help us move ahead and help guide development in that triangle area that we’re all concerned about and that is really the hub of growth,” said commissioner Don Seifert, who chaired the committee that wrote the plan.

Belgrade, Bozeman and Gallatin County elected officials, staff and planning board members created the plan to coordinate services and development in the area, which has overlapping zoning, planning and government jurisdictions.

The Bozeman City Commission has already approved the plan and the Belgrade City Council intends to adopt it on Monday.

Belgrade officials have said they will use the Triangle Community Plan to help them with their ongoing work to craft zoning regulations for areas of the city that aren’t zoned.

Gallatin County and the Gallatin Valley Land Trust are using the plan to assist the creation of a trails plan for the area west of Bozeman.

Local governments will also likely use the plan to guide transportation work because if Bozeman reaches 50,000 residents according to the 2020 census, the federal government will require the city to form a Metropolitan Planning Organization to focus on transportation initiatives.

The officials who developed it have said they may use it to facilitate annual discussions between Belgrade, Bozeman and Gallatin County on subjects like planning, capital projects and the locations of new schools.

The Triangle Community Plan has been in the works for six years.

In 2014, local consultants conducted a study that indicated coordinated efforts between Gallatin County, Bozeman and Belgrade could help the Gallatin Valley better manage its growth.

In 2016, Belgrade, Bozeman and Gallatin County formed a committee to work together on development issues.

The committee met with several groups, including the Gallatin Valley Land Trust, Central Valley Fire District and the Association of Gallatin Valley Agricultural irrigators, to hear their concerns about and ideas for managing growth. The committee also held four public open houses to collect more feedback.

The information the committee collected informed the document that commissioners approved this week.

“This represents a coordination and partnership between the local governments in our valley, and it should be celebrated,” said commissioner Scott MacFarlane.

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