Rural communities outside of Butte give feedback on county growth plan

Posted at 3:28 PM, Jan 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-16 18:18:19-05

MELROSE – Butte-Silver Bow’s Planning Department heard concerns about the future from residents who live in the county’s small, rural towns. Most are happy with the way things are.

“It’s fine just the way it is. So keep the industry on the other side of the Divide,” said a Melrose rancher.

Every 10 years Butte-Silver Bow County’s planning Department drafts a growth policy plan. This decade, officials want to include the needs of those living in rural communities.

“Sometimes we concentrate only on Butte and our urban area, so I think it’s important we get out to the rural population and see what their communities envision,” said Butte Planning Director Lori Casey.

Those who attended the meeting in the Melrose School auditorium express concerns about preserving the regions natural beauty. Many want the towns to stay just large enough to keep their school houses running.

“Melrose expressed concerns about the number of children attending their school, you know, they are kind of becoming a seasonal type town with maybe a lot of out of town or state owners, so they’re not there all the time or have children there,” said Casey.

Many folks at this meeting said living in a small town can be challenging, it’s not easy, in fact it can be quiet boring and that’s how they like it.

“They grew up in agriculture, they grew up in a rural setting, they lived in cities and they don’t want to do it anymore and it you get an opportunity to move back to a place like Divide or Melrose where you like the outdoors, the quiet the scenery, wildlife,” said Divide resident John Schlegelmilch.

The planning department hopes to have its 10-year growth plan completed by the end of the year and will host more meetings next month.

Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News