What is a Growth Policy?

    A growth policy (also known as a comprehensive plan, a community 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 with a population of greater than 5,000 within a county of a population of greater than 70,000. 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.

    Montana State Statute 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 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."

    Why should I get involved?

    The answer to this is quite simple: if you're not involved and your voice isn't heard during this Growth Policy update process, then the Growth Policy itself won't have a chance to reflect your vision and priorities for the town.

    The City of Whitefish believes community participation is a critical component of the planning process and recognizes that policy and planning decisions about land use, housing, transportation, and capital facilities do not impact us all in the same way. Providing the opportunity for public input encourages citizens to be invested in the future of their community and helps ensure recommendations developed as part of the Growth Policy update are implemented and sustained over time. 

    Community members are holders of local knowledge. It is the responsibility of the City to listen, elevate, and consider community voices during the planning process. Robust and inclusive community engagement is a vital component of drafting and updating a Growth Policy.  

    We need to hear from you!

    How can I participate?

    There are a variety of ways you can participate in this process, listed here below:

    • Follow this Vision Whitefish 2045 project page to get notifications on updates and new surveys, documents, or announcements. (click on the "Subscribe" button above)
    • Attend the August 24, 2023 Kick Off Meeting - see details in the Key Dates module.
    • Read the Public Engagement Plan which is posted in the documents section, which describes how participation can occur. 
    • Complete every survey we launch at each phase of the planning process

    How do I use this public engagement site?

    Registered users will be able to receive notifications regarding Growth Policy progress and will be able to engage and interact in a variety of ways. This includes posting ideas, interacting in topic forums, asking and responding to questions, offering input through surveys and polls, and making comments about specific areas on map widgets. These tools will be added as the project progresses (in the same line as the news feed and the questions buttons). Unregistered users will be able to browse this site but will not be able to interact or post.