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Lake County officials plan for the future

From Land Solutions, LLC

POLSON — Lake County’s plans for community growth and development are up for discussion. The 2003 Lake County Growth Policy, the county’s main guidance document for land use and community development efforts, is due for revisions and the Lake County Commissioners are asking the public to help steer the update. 

Planners from the Lake County Planning Department and Land Solutions LLC, a professional planning firm based in Charlo, will host open house meetings in Polson, Ronan, Arlee, Proctor and Ferndale during July. The planners are looking for input on the key issues facing Lake County.  The top issues identified to date are Housing, Quality of Life, Economic Development, Local Governance and Leadership, and Land Use and Development. 

Each meeting is scheduled to run from 4 p.m. through 7 p.m., where visitors can drop by at their convenience, learn about the growth policy rewrite project, ask questions, and provide input through questionnaires, topic stations, and simply by speaking their opinions.

The meeting times are intended to work with people’s schedules. “The meetings will be an open house format where people can visit with the planners and can come and go at their convenience,” said Dave DeGrandpre, Principal Planner of Land Solutions. “It will be informal.  Even if you only have 10 minutes, stop by, browse around, grab some information and a cookie, and give us some of your thoughts.” 

“Feedback from the open houses and questionnaires provided at the meetings and on the project website will help the planners refine the draft goals and objectives for the plan, and will help shape how we will tackle the key issues facing Lake County.”  DeGrandpre added, “We hope everyone who is interested tries to make it. If you can’t make it to a meeting, all of the information and comment forms will be available at the project website,” 

The Lake County Commissioners, who will ultimately decide on whether to adopt the growth policy rewrite, see public participation at the early stages of this project as critical to the plan’s success. Lake County Commissioner Gale Decker hopes people from all over Lake County come out to voice their opinions. “This plan really needs to come from the people who live in Lake County and these meetings will be a great chance to participate,” Commissioner Decker said.

The current Growth Policy, adopted in 2003, is a plan that guides decision making on topics such as land use regulations, subdivision development, roads, and water and sewer projects.  By state law, a growth policy must be reviewed every five years.  “It’s long overdue for an update,” said Lake County Planning Director Jacob Feistner. “So much has changed since the 2003 Growth Policy was adopted, from the economic crash and recovery to the tribal acquisition of the former Kerr Dam.  From adoption of the Density Map and now the county asking whether it’s needed and appropriate, to new and improved infrastructure like Highway 93 and walking path improvements around the county. This update gives us a chance to identify our community development priorities and figure out what issues the public wants us to address.”

Joel Nelson, planner with Land Solutions and Lake County resident, said, “Lake County is a place like no other, with unique circumstances. We want to bring the public into this as much as possible to make it a plan that we, as a community, can use to get the most out of the special opportunities we have here.”

Open House Meeting Schedule:
Polson: Thursday, July 13:  Lake County Courthouse, 106 Fourth Ave East

Proctor/Dayton: Tuesday, July 18: Proctor Schoolhouse, 21935 Proctor School Rd

Ferndale: Thursday, July 20: Ferndale Community Center, 31857 S Ferndale Dr

Arlee: Tuesday, July 25: Arlee Community Center, 34086 Pow Wow Rd

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