1. Think as a region:

Right now, planning for growth is done separately by the local governments of the cities and Gallatin County. We all have a stake in the future of the Gallatin Valley, whether we live in one of the cities or in rural areas. We’ll create a much better future if we work together as communities. That doesn’t mean we all need to look alike – Belgrade and Bozeman and Manhattan and rural areas all have a different character and need to determine for themselves what they want their community to look like – but we can and should coordinate where it makes sense, especially in providing infrastructure for future growth areas.

2. Vision:

Once the local governments are working together as a region, they need to decide where they want growth to occur. Do we want more urban type of growth (like in our existing towns) to happen in the areas between Four Corners and Belgrade and Bozeman? How about the area between Manhattan and Belgrade?

3. Coordinate infrastructure investments:

When our communities have decided where we want growth to go, we need figure out how to provide the infrastructure that will accommodate growth in those areas. For instance, the area between Belgrade and Bozeman cannot handle urban growth because there are no sewer treatment facilities in the area, so right now, only very low-density development can happen there. The communities will need to come up with a common solution.

4. Create great places:

The key to keeping the Gallatin Valley a wonderful place to live is not forcing people to live in cities – it is in making the cities places where people want to live. Places that have great neighborhoods, that provide housing choice and a 21st century transportation system, walkable neighborhoods, a lively downtown, and parks and trails, and perhaps most importantly, the jobs that provide economic opportunity.

5. Protect natural places in rural areas:

Not everyone is going to want to live in town. But when development does happen in rural areas, it can be done in a way that doesn’t pave over the best farmland, river corridors, and fishing and hunting opportunities. The county can allow growth in rural areas without losing what make those places special.

Watch Randy Carpenter lay it down in a PechaKucha presentation:

Bonus point!

Use conservation easements to protect smaller, specific areas with special features, like a ranch that contains riparian areas. We are blessed with an excellent home-grown effort, Gallatin Valley Land Trust, that has helped protect thousands of acres of ag lands and open spaces.