Belt gets $26,250 planning grant to develop subdivision, zoning regulation plan

The Town of Belt has been awarded a $26,250 planning grant through the Montana Department of Commerce’s Community Development Block Grant program.

The grant will support Belt’s effort to develop a subdivision and zoning regulation plan, according to a Jan. 23 release from the state commerce department.

County CDBG needs: Belt drafting first growth policy, zoning regulations; Eden Community Hall in need of repairs

Commerce announced Jan. 23 that more than $900,000 of federal grant funds were awarded to 29 Montana communities for planning grants.

“Planning is at the foundation of building healthy and vibrant communities,” Commerce Director Tara Rice said in the release. “These planning grants will help Montana communities develop and preserve affordable homes, plan for community projects, and create and retain jobs.”

CDBG planning grants may be used for the preparation of plans, studies, training or research in any of these areas, according to Commerce:

  • growth policies
  • comprehensive capital improvement plans
  • subdivision regulations
  • zoning regulations
  • regional or neighborhood plans
  • downtown revitalization or master plans
  • housing plans
  • comprehensive economic development strategy
  • tax increment finance district and targeted economic development district
  • historic and architectural preservation studies
  • ADA self-assessment plans
  • Brownfield redevelopment plans
  • preliminary architectural reports
  • preliminary engineering reports
  • site-specific development plans
  • business plans

In 2018, Belt Mayor Jim Olson attended the Cascade County Commission’s CDBG needs hearing and said his priorities included getting technical help for developing zoning regulations and hiring a consultant to help draft those zoning regulations.

In early 2018, the town council developed a strategic plan and created a zoning board for the town of about 600 people.

In a 2018 interview with The Electric, Olson said town officials were advised by Montana Municipal Interlocal Authority, their insurance agent, to hire a consultant to develop the zoning regulations.

“We have neither the expertise or the ability to come up with anything meaningful,” Olson said.

The look at zoning a growth plan grew out of the announcement that the Madison Food Park would be locating between the town and Great Falls.

“We realized we could grow so quickly,” Olson told The Electric in 2018.

Town leaders started asking how that kind of growth would impact Belt’s infrastructure and development.

In January 2018, the town council started work on a strategic plan. That document was finished in March of that year and the town established a zoning board and to begin working on the town’s growth policy.