The city of Bozeman is in the final stages of completing a new community plan, which will guide Bozeman’s growth for the next 20 years.
The draft plan will be presented to the city commission at its next meeting on Oct. 6, and is scheduled to a vote in late November. During a virtual public meeting Wednesday, city staff discussed how the plan — which is guided by seven broad themes and a map designating future uses for parcels of land — will actually be implemented.
The plan isn’t regulatory, meaning that the measures it lays out won’t automatically become law once it’s adopted, but it does guide future zoning and development decisions. The plan is not retroactive, community development manager Chris Saunders said Wednesday.
“The city does amend its regulations as needed to implement the (community plan) policies,” Saunders said. “Then once those regulations have been adopted they do apply to new development applications.”
The community plan is a “broad foundation,” Saunders said, guiding zoning decisions, which in turn affects how specific developments take shape.
The draft plan — also referred to as a growth policy — includes a section that lays out both the short-term goals the city is suggested to take on and how the city will measure its progress on the plan’s goals.
Several items on the short-term action list recommend evaluating the zoning map — either to coordinate zoning with the proposed future land use map or to increase required minimum densities in residential districts.
“Zoning is really where it gets down to the details and converts a nice idea into something people need to do,” Saunders said Thursday.
The short-term action list also includes recommendations to evaluate revising maximum building height limits, updating the unified development code to reflect suggested density increases or minimums and addressing missing links in the multi-modal system.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Rogers said they would take direction from the city commission on which items they need to prioritize.
In some ways, the average resident may not notice any change as a result of the plan once it’s adopted, Saunders said Thursday, as the general policies are largely in line with previous planning documents.
“If you’re the owner of an individual house or business that is in an area that’s already developed, you’re probably going to see much less impact from the updated plan because you already have a use on the ground,” Saunders said.
One difference between this plan and previous plans is an emphasis on infill, Saunders said, or building or redeveloping within already developed areas. The city expects to see development on North 7th Avenue and in the downtown to continue, Saunders said.
All of it, Saunders and Rogers said, will be influenced by the growth plan, though Rogers noted that the average person may not realize it until they start engaging with how the city works.
“(People) find out that the trails, the parks, the roads, and the variety of commercial areas that we have didn’t just materialize automatically,” Rogers said. “We do defer to the market to help influence that, but there’s a lot of strategic choices that the commission has to make to achieve that functional city, the functional aspects of the city.”