By Town of Terry Mayor Ron Kiosse
As members of our community work hard towards completing a growth policy for the Town of Terry, we recognize the importance for those of us living and working in the community to know not only what exactly a growth policy is but to participate in the process.
Generally, a Growth Policy, or what was formerly known as a “Comprehensive Plan,” is an official document adopted by a local government as part of public policy to guide decisions about the physical, social, and economic development of a community. A Growth Policy is not legislation. It is not a zoning or subdivision ordinance, although such codes are among the ways of implementing Growth Policies. By itself, a Growth Policy does not have the force of law. However, it provides the legal and rational basis for regulations, public investments, or other government programs or actions. Planning allows the community to envision its future and proactively work to achieve it instead of just reacting and moving from one short-range, quick-fix solution to another as events occur. The Growth Policy will be reviewed and revised periodically as prescribed in Montana law to keep it up-to-date and relevant to the community.
The Town of Terry Growth Policy will be similar to the Prairie County Growth Policy, adopted in September 2006. The County Policy was not required to, and did not, include planning specific to the area inside the Town of Terry city limits. Therefore, the Town of Terry Planning Board is separate from the Prairie County Planning Board, although the two policies are designed to function together and the county will be included as a part of the planning process through Planning Board appointees, communication, and coordination.
One of the major benefits of the planning process is to improve coordination among the different individuals, agencies, and departments involved in growth management decisions.
The following are also some of the benefits to community planning:
• Maintains property values for residential, commercial, and industrial properties by preventing nearby incompatible or degrading uses.
• Draws attention to and focuses efforts on problems and opportunities.
• Provides a single source of information and data on the Town as well as the Town’s policies regarding future development.
• Fosters wise and thoughtful investments in major public facilities, such as roads, water and sewer systems, solid waste, and fire protection.
• Helps to make a community more attractive to investment by businesses and industries.
• Protects special community values, such as historic, cultural, scenic and natural features, or rural agricultural character.
• Promotes affordable housing.
• Identifies growth patterns that minimize the cost to provide local services and infrastructure.
• Ensures that adequate amounts of suitable land are available for residential, commercial, and industrial growth.
• Promotes better public understanding of the community development process.
• Sets the framework for zoning, subdivision and other development regulations, capital improvements programming, budget decisions, etc.
Developing the town’s growth policy is no easy task. However, I feel confident that we have a dedicated and capable group of folks donating their time to this endeavor. With that said, we welcome any questions and/or comments as we must all work together to move forward. More information is available at Town Hall.
Published March 21, 2012