~ Plan On It ~

Growth Policy Chapter 6 – Housing Affordability

Submitted by Mary Grube,

Planning Department

There have been many educational articles surrounding the Growth Policy, the updates made surrounding public comment and the fact that it is in place as a guiding document for the governmental officials to use in future planning. MCA 76-1-605 states Use of adopted growth policy. (1) Subject to subsection (2), after adoption of a growth policy, the governing body within the area covered by the growth policy pursuant to 76-1-601 must be guided by and give consideration to the general policy and pattern of development set out in the growth policy in the: (a) authorization, construction, alteration or abandonment of public ways, public places, public structures or public utilities; (b) authorization, acceptance, or construction of water mains, sewers, connections, facilities, or utilities; and (c) adoption of zoning ordinances or resolutions. (2) (a) A growth policy is not a regulatory document and does not confer any authority to regulate that is not otherwise specifically authorized by law or regulations adopted pursuant to the law. (b) A governing body may not withhold, deny, or impose conditions on any land use approval or other authority to act based solely on compliance with a growth policy adopted pursuant to this chapter.

One thing that has remained consistent with the 2012 and newly updated Growth Policy is the need for affordable house. It is one of the most important issues to community members. Housing affordability is generally defined as spending no more than 30 percent of gross income on housing and basic utility costs. One option that came up is for the City of Baker to implement several land development strategies to incentivize affordable units. This could be encouraged through zoning by encouraging smaller lot sizes. The need of affordable units comes from all age categories, including special needs.   Individuals working in the middle-class sector have a difficult time finding affordable housing on their basic income needs. The increase and decline of the oilfield, have caused a very unstable housing market. This in turn makes it unaffordable for those with middle to lower income categories. This has an adverse effect on the economy of Fallon County.

If you have any questions surrounding planning or the Growth Policy, please feel free to call me at 406-778-7111 or email me at grubem@falloncounty.net. The Growth Policy can be viewed on falloncounty.net on the Planner’s page.