National Volunteer Planning Team Provides Nine Key Recommendations for Lewis & Clark County and the City of Helena on Growth and Development Activities


CHICAGO – June 23, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — A volunteer planning assistance team from the American Planning Association has provided Lewis & Clark County and the City of Helena with nine recommendations for addressing the region’s growth and development activities.

The team’s recommendations are covered in their final report Helena Urban Standards Boundary Workshop: Engage, Facilitate & Plan. The recommendations are connected to the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and county on development issues, and the effort to develop standards for the area within the Urban Standards Boundary (USB).

The volunteer planning team’s recommendations come after working in the community, meeting with stakeholders, touring the area, and receiving community feedback on various proposed ideas. The recommendations include:

Collaborate on planning efforts: align or merge the city and county’s individual growth policies.
Focus on the big picture: avoid getting bogged down in recouping financial costs for infrastructure and focus on efforts to create incentives for growth and development within the USB.
Steer development: use incentives and disincentives to steer development to implement the shared vision.
Establish seamless infrastructure standards: mirror the city’s standards for water, wastewater, roads, storm water systems, sidewalks and lot/block design.
Establish infrastructure funding: create an alternative financial resource for building and expanding infrastructure.
Anticipate the need for affordable housing: maximize opportunities for density to ensure ability to provide affordable housing.
Increase public education: engage in a more robust public education and marketing plan around the Urban Standards Boundary.
Take immediate action: prevent possible frustration by acting in a timely fashion in regards to inefficient and sprawling development that is occurring continuously.
Complete the Memorandum of Understanding: address the four tasks that are outstanding.
The team is part of American Planning Association’s professional institute’s Community Planning Assistance Teams program. The program matches communities that need planning assistance with experts from around the country. Teams have previously assisted with advancing community planning goals, economic development, transportation and post-disaster recovery.

Lewis & Clark County and the City of Helena applied for team assistance. The Helena Community Planning Assistance Team was led by Joanne Garnett, FAICP. Garnett is a partner of Orion Planning Group. Team members included:

Bill Collins, AICP, a private planning consultant and former planning director for Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Ken Markert, AICP, a rural and small town planning specialist and founder of MMI Planning.
Neal Starkebaum, AICP, assistant director of the Gunnison County, Colorado Community Development Department.
Read more about the Helena Team.

Communities seeking planning-related assistance may apply here. The Community Planning Assistance Team program was established in 1995 to help serve communities with limited planning resources. Previous teams have recently worked in Pine Hills, Orlando, Florida; Franklin, Tennessee; La Feria, Texas; and Seven Ranches Area – Maricopa, Arizona; among other locations.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic, and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, with almost 40,000 members worldwide in nearly 100 countries.

Roberta Rewers, APA; 312-786-6395;
George Thebarge, Lewis & Clark County; 406-447-8394;

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