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Paradise Planned

Commission vote clarifies process for updating Park County growth policy

While much of Park County remains relatively undeveloped agricultural land, recent growth has stressed critical natural resources such as water and fragmented crucial wildlife habitat. An updated county growth policy would allow residents to create a framework for future growth that would prioritize collectively held values, such as open space, wild lands and the rural way of life. Photo by David Tucker
While much of Park County remains relatively undeveloped agricultural land, recent growth has stressed critical natural resources such as water and fragmented crucial wildlife habitat. An updated county growth policy would allow residents to create a framework for future growth that would prioritize collectively held values, such as open space, wild lands and the rural way of life. Photo by David Tucker
by David Tucker

In Park County, we’re getting to see how the sausage is made—or, rather, democracy in action.

For the third time in three years, county commissioners have agreed to move forward with a new growth policy after once again hearing significant public comment in support of an update.

At a commissioners meeting on April 16, planning director Mike Inman outlined the process, clarifying points of confusion that necessitated the additional vote, one that had previously been held at a December 12, 2023 meeting, when the commission unanimously agreed to an update.

Clear as the Yellowstone during runoff, right?

“The commission made a decision to move forward with creating a new growth policy, however the process that we would use to create that growth policy was not clarified,” Inman said.

After receiving that clarity, the commission voted 2-1 in favor of moving forward, with Michael Story of District 1 voting against, suggesting instead to wait until a June referendum seeking to remove the current growth policy has been voted on. “I believe the first time we’re going to have public input on any growth policy is going to be in June when we have this [Referendum 1] vote,” Story said. “What’s a few more months? We should hold off until June.”
The entire growth policy updating process will likely last two to three years at a minimum, according to Park County Planning Director Mike Inman.
For most in attendance, approval was welcome news. “A growth policy is essential for safeguarding our natural resources,” Ken Cochrane, president of Friends of Park County, said in his public comments. “Our majestic mountains, pristine rivers, vast open spaces and productive ranch lands are the lifeblood of Park County. Without proper planning, unchecked development would irreversibly damage these treasures.”

With the vote secured, proper planning can begin, according to Director Inman, starting with the funding process that could take at least six months. He said the entire updating process will likely last two to three years at a minimum.

“I think the time is now for us to get moving on [an update],” commissioner Clint Tinsley said. “I support the plan of a new growth policy starting now.”

The Park County growth policy update is a developing story that Mountain Journal will continue to report on. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow on social media for the latest.

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Mountain Journal is the only nonprofit, public-interest journalism organization of its kind dedicated to covering the wildlife and wild lands of Greater Yellowstone. We take pride in our work, yet to keep bold, independent journalism free, we need your support. Please donate here. Thank you.


David Tucker
About David Tucker

David Tucker is a freelance journalist covering conservation, recreation and the environment in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
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