- Planning & Building
- Growth Policy Update (Vision Whitefish 2045)
Growth Policy Update (Vision Whitefish 2045)
What is a Growth Policy?
A growth policy (also known as a comprehensive plan or master plan) is an official public document intended to be a guide for making decisions about a city’s future, particularly with regards to land use. Under Montana State Statute, a growth policy is required for any municipality that adopts or amends zoning or subdivision regulations. Although a growth policy is not regulatory, it is used as the basis for creating regulations (to implement the growth policy) and is the "blueprint" for the future of the City.
The State of Montana Growth Policy Statute, MCA 76-1-601, identifies the minimum content that must be included in the document. This includes maps and narrative describing the character and features of the community, such as land use, population, housing, economics, local services, public facilities, natural resources, and other topics as identified by residents.
Under Montana statute, a planning board is the only public entity authorized to prepare a growth policy, at the request of the City Council. The Whitefish City Planning Board, based on Montana state statutes, will direct staff on preparation and development of the plan and provide the sounding board for public input.
Why are we updating the Growth Policy?
The Montana Growth Policy Statute presently requires the growth policy to be reviewed and updated if necessary at least every 5 years. The City of Whitefish’s Growth Policy has not been updated since 2007, although recent corridor Plans and other specific plans (such as the downtown master plan) are considered “updates” to the growth policy. Given the amount of time that has elapsed since the approval or the original growth policy, the City Council has made it a priority to review and update the existing policy, as well as incorporate or reference more recent corridor and specific plans into a single, cohesive document. A growth policy typically looks 20 years into the future, which is why this Plan is called "Vision 2045."
What has happened so far?
City staff spent the first few months obtaining and reviewing previous growth policies, documents, regulations, studies and state requirements. Next, staff walked and drove every street in the City of Whitefish and mapped the existing conditions of the City, parcel by parcel, to prepare an accurate snapshot of the City as it presently exists. Staff presented the results of this effort in an existing conditions presentation to the Planning Board and City Council. You can view a live recording of that presentation HERE Version Options Growth Policy Update (Vision Whitefish 2045) Headline and the power point presentation is linked below.
What is Next?
Staff is presently working on a public engagement plan. This Plan is intended to outline and describe how the community will be engaged in the growth policy update process, the stakeholders that should be involved, the means for communications (including print and online media), and the anticipated public meetings. If the Planning Board approves the public engagement plan, staff will begin scheduling the first public kickoff meeting. Staff anticipates the first public meeting to occur in late Spring or Summer.
The public engagement plan will be posted on this site and will outline the growth policy process and timeline, including opportunities and mechanisms for citizen involvement and upcoming public hearings. Staff anticipates the Plan update to take approximately 2 years.
How Can I Be Involved?
Being at this page is a great start! As already mentioned, a public engagement plan is in the works to identify how to get the community engaged and involved in the update process. All updates, recent materials and news will be posted to this website. Also, staff is reviewing the usage of additional social media dedicated to this project.
Stay tuned as we move forward with this exciting project!
For additional information or comments, or to be added to an email distribution list, please email the project manager, Alan Tiefenbach, Long Range Planner.
Recent Materials and Links
https://cityofwhitefishmt.sharepoint.com/:p:/s/PlanningandBuilding/ERzVUXq6VO1ElzDteiS4FQ0B62fL8UgYf1nGstnqzVeKSQ?e=d06csA Existing Conditions Power Point Presentation to February 21, 2023 City Council
Staff Memo to the February 21, 2023 Council
Youtube Stream of the Existing Conditions Presentation to the February 16, 2023 Planning Board. (Presentation begins at 55 minutes)
EXISTING CONDITIONS PRESENTATION
March 7, 2023
On February 16 and February 21, Staff made an existing conditions presentation to the Planning Board and City Council as a start to the growth policy. You can see the video to this presentation HERE. The growth policy discussion begins at approximately 55 minutes.
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PLAN
March 7, 2023
Staff is presently working on a public engagement plan. This Plan is intended to outline and describe how the community will be engaged in the growth policy update process, the stakeholders that should be engaged, the means for communications, and the anticipated public meetings. If the Planning Board approves the public engagement plan, staff will begin scheduling the first public kickoff meeting. Staff anticipates the first public meeting to occur in late Spring or Summer.