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By Eric Dietrich, Montana Free Press

Vacant lot in neighborhoodBill would require high-level analysis of urban housing needs, limit project-specific public comment.

Montana lawmakers got an initial look Wednesday at a major land planning bill that aims to overhaul how development decisions are made in and around Montana’s fast-growing urban areas.

Senate Bill 382 would require additional planning by local governments, rework how and when residents can participate in planning decisions and, supporters say, make it easier to build the housing necessary to accommodate rapid population growth.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Forrest Mandeville, R-Columbus, was written in large part by Montana League of Cities and Towns Executive Director Kelly Lynch. It’s described by proponents as the outcome of a yearslong collaborative effort to address long-standing concerns about the state’s often-convoluted land use code — including some of the issues raised last year by Gov. Greg Gianforte’s housing task force.


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