Growth Policy project meets in CHS commons, Feb. 23


LOOKING REAL GOOD  — Mark Ghekiere stirs up a fresh batch of chili in the Moose kitchen during the benefit on Friday for the Gerry Walter family.  I-O Photo by Buck Traxler




Committees working on the Growth Policies, or long-range comprehensive plans, for Conrad, Valier and Pondera County will host a public open house at the Conrad High School commons on Feb. 23, 7:30-9 p.m. and in Valier at the library on Feb. 22, 7-8:30 p.m. At each open house there will be displays and a short presentation approximately one half hour after the start time for the open houses. The consultant, Cossitt Consulting, will provide a short summary of the plans and the recent survey conducted of county property owners.

“The purpose of the open houses is for the public to comment on the draft plan and indicate where changes are needed,” says Anne Cossitt. 
Initial drafts were the subject of growth policy committee meetings in January. Revised plan drafts will be released by mid-February to reflect changes from the committees in January.  All growth policy materials are available on the Pondera Port Authority website .

The growth policies are intended as a policy guide for the future of the town of Valier, the city of Conrad, and the rest of the unincorporated areas of the county.  There is a separate plan for each.  The timeline for the future plans is approximately 20 years.

A vision statement is included for each jurisdiction.  A vision statement is a concise description of what a community desires for its future.

It is expressed in the present tense – the envisioned preferred condition the community.  The Conrad draft vision statement is:
“Conrad is a vibrant city of families and neighbors, with a historic downtown and quiet neighborhoods that reflect pride of ownership and friendliness.  Conrad is the jewel of the Northern Montana Rocky Mountain Front, with an abundance of activities, services, and amenities.

Within a short drive, there is access to more urban activities and diverse recreation.”

Draft goals for Conrad include the following.  For each draft goal, the draft plan includes more specific strategies for how to achieve the goal.


Diversify and expand the economy of Conrad and increase the number of jobs that pay a living wage.


Focus new development and city renewal on the town’s historic compact land use pattern that provides for cost efficiencies in infrastructure and services, walkable distances, and open space at the town’s edges.


Expand safe, affordable housing choices for all ages and incomes.


Provide for safety from natural disasters and adequate emergency response for fire and medical care.


Provide cost efficient and effective public infrastructure for the long-term. 


Encourage sustainable development.


Enhance city appearance to make it a more desirable place to live and work for residents and a destination for visitors.

In addition to the goals and strategies, the plan includes a proposed future land use plan for Conrad.  The plan represents how Conrad should develop over the next 20 years by showing the locations and characteristics of major land use types, such as commercial, industrial, residential, and so forth.   The proposed future land use map is intended to be fairly general.

The boundaries between different types of uses are not distinct and the narrative specifications for development in each area are general as well.

The Future Land Use Map will provide guidance for zoning decisions but it is not as precise as a zoning ordinance.  Many details about land use characteristics in each type of area and the exact boundaries of areas will be worked out when revising the zoning ordinance.  Conrad must revise its zoning ordinance to include the area recently annexed into the city on the east side of the north Interstate interchange.

There are two alternative future land use proposals in the draft plan.  The Growth Policy Committee for Conrad has recommended the “Compact Community Alternative” which proposes that as the city grows in the future it will retain a pattern of residential development similar to what is already in town.

Anyone wishing more information is invited to go to the “growth policy” tab on the Pondera Port Authority website. If you wish to comment, you can do that via the website as well.