Growth Policies & Planning Tools

Growth Policy

In 1999, the Montana Legislature approved a bill updating a tool long used for land use planning, the comprehensive plan or master plan. The new law establishes minimum requirements for these plans, which are now called growth policies. A growth policy is an official document adopted by a local government and used to guide growth and change. Growth policies are not regulatory, but can be implemented through a variety of regulatory and nonregulatory tools, such as subdivision regulations and neighborhood plans. Growth policies and other planning tools can include provisions to help protect water quality from impacts of growth and development.

Several Flathead Basin jurisdictions have adopted growth policies.

Kalispell

The city of Kalispell adopted a growth policy in 2003. For more information, contact the Kalispell Planning Department at 758-7940 or view the growth policy at: http://www.kalispell.com/planning/growth_policy.cfm

Whitefish

The city of Whitefish adopted a growth policy in 2007. For more information, contact the Whitefish Planning & Building Department at 863-2410 or view the growth policy at:  http://www.whitefish.govoffice.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=

Polson

The city of Polson adoped a growth policy in 2006.  For more information, contact the Polson Building and Planning Department at 883-8214 or view the growth policy at: http://www.cityofpolson.com/pdf/gpf.pdf

Flathead County

Flathead County adopted a growth policy in 2007.  In 2012 the Flathead County Commissioners adopted revisions to the growth policy that weaken protections for water quality.  See our comment letters (9/24/12 and 10/11/12) urging the county to maintain those important policies. For more information, contact the Flathead County Planning & Zoning Department at 752-8200 or view the growth policy at: http://flathead.mt.gov/planning_zoning/growth_resolution2015a.php

Lake County

Lake County adopted a growth policy in 2003. For more information, contact the Lake County Planning Department at 883-7235 or view the growth policy at: http://www.lakecounty-mt.org/planning/growthpolicy.html

Other Planning Tools

Many other planning tools are available that can help protect water quality. Among these are zoning and zoning districts, neighborhood plans, development permit regulations, conservation easements, transfer of development rights, subdivision regulations, covenants, floodplain regulations, lakeshore regulations, and local water quality districts.

A Planning Guide for Protecting Montana's Wetlands and Riparian Areas, available from Montana Watercourse, provides a good overview of many of these tools.

More Information

For more information visit:

Shoreline & Streambank Protection

Floodplain Protection

Groundwater Protection

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