Long Range Planning

The Growth Policy is the foundational guiding document that establishes the City’s long-term vision.  The Planning Division is also actively involved in supporting the efforts of city neighborhoods to develop their own neighborhood plans. These plans are intended to provide a critical examination of neighborhood scale issues that expand on the vision laid out in the City's Growth Policy. 

2011 Growth Policy -  Growth Policy Adopted 5-9-11

2011 Growth Policy -  Growth Policy Adopted 5-9-11

Click the links to view the Growth Policy sections. 


Introduction and Organization




Growth Policy Amendments

On October 17, 2016, the Helena City Commission adopted Resolution No. 20313 to include the Downtown Master Plan as the Downtown Neighborhood Plan. Please click on the links below for the Downtown Neighborhood Plan and Resolution No. 20313.

Downtown Neighborhood Plan
Resolution No. 20313

2011 Growth Policy Maps

Several new maps have been created for the Growth Policy update for incorporation into the document. 

Development Constraints

The development constraints map identifies issues within the City of Helena and up to approximately 4.5 miles from the city limits that can affect the location of land uses and the type of development standards that may be required.  This map shows the general locations of floodplains (blue color), liquefaction (areas prone extensive rolling moving like shaking jello during an earthquake due soil type) (brown color), and wildland-urban interface areas (red) that may be more susceptible to wildfire.

Existing Land Use

The land use map identifies current land uses within the City of Helena and up to approximately 4.5 miles from the city limits.  These land use designations include agricultural/low density of less than 1 residential dwelling unit per 5 acres (light green color); rural density, 1-5 acres (yellow); urban density residential, less than 1 acre per residential dwelling (orange); commercial/industrial (red); public/government (blue); and recreation/open space/parks (dark green). 

Future Land Use

The proposed future land use map identifies potential areas for commercial, industrial, open space, public, and mixed uses.  The proposed map also identifies areas for urban, suburban and rural development.  Refer to the Land Use chapter
for the Future Land Use Map – Categories and Characteristics and Mixed Use Areas descriptions for each of these categories.   

The Future Land Use map of the February 1, 2011 Draft City of Helena Growth Policy, as originally posted on this website, had some technical drafting errors.  This map has been corrected to more accurately reflect the narrative language contained in Chapter 10 and as proposed by the City Commission.  The corrected map is now contained on this website and  includes the following changes:

* "Mixed Use Area B" was extended eastward from Montana Avenue to I-15 instead of being shown as "Urban."

* Revised the "Public" land use designation boundary of the Helena Regional Airport to distinguish between the land use categories for "Public," "Industrial/Transportation" and "Mixed Use."

* Revised the area recently annexed by East Helena located east of the Helena Regional Airport as included in the "East Helena Growth Policy Boundary."

* Added previously-omitted parklands and open spaces.

2019 Growth Policy Update

2019 Growth Policy Update

NOTE: Due to the current situation, the 2019 Growth Policy Update Public Hearing will NOT be held as planned on Monday, March 23rd.  Another public hearing date has not been scheduled. Once a course of action has been decided, we will post an update here.

The City of Helena, in its efforts to provide a more inclusive, dynamic and vibrant community, has chosen to undertake certain long-range planning activities including a Growth Policy update. This guiding document provides a road map for the management of growth within and adjacent to the city limits. The City hopes that this along with other adopted documents can provide residents, staff, and investors with the tools they need to better understand the City and how to best navigate the development process. 

Below are the latest chapters of the Growth Policy that were presented to the Consolidated Planning Board at a Public Hearing on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, at 6pm in the Council Chambers.  The recommended changes made by the Board at the Public Hearing can be viewed here.

If you have questions, please call (406) 447-8492 or email mmcconnell@helenamt.gov.

    Next Steps:

    • March 9, 2020 - City Commission, Resolution of Intent
    • (Canceled) March 23, 2020 - City Commission, Public Hearing

    Storefront Studio Event (Video)

    Below are linked materials, including two workshop exercises and a photo archive, from a Storefront Studio participation event held by the City Planning Division on April 3rd-6th.

    Activity Centers 123

    Workshop #1: Groups 12345 

    Workshop #2: Groups 1234

    Graffiti Wall 12 

    Scenario Boards/Comments 123

    Development and Neighborhoods 12

    Streets and Public Realm 12

    Relevant Planning Documents:


    View Frequently Asked Questions

    Neighborhood Plan

    Downtown Neighborhood Plan

    Downtown Neighborhood Plan

    Downtown Neighborhood Plan

    The Downtown Helena Master Plan is the story of a grassroots effort to define, understand, and capture opportunities for the Downtown and the greater Helena community. The Master Plan is an exciting glimpse into the future, and will help Downtown Helena build on past success, leverage its unique sense of place, and prepare for new opportunities to achieve the best potential for this magnificent place.

    Below are links to the Downtown Neighborhood Plan and its related appendices.

    Urban Renewal Districts

    Downtown Urban Renewal Districts & Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

    Downtown Urban Renewal Districts & Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

    On October 29, 2018 the Helena City Commission moved forward with the establishment of the Downtown Urban Renewal District (DURD), with final passage of Ordinance 3242, creating the district, establishing its boundaries, and formally adopting the Downtown Urban Renewal District Plan, inclusive of a tax increment provision in accordance with state statute (MCA 7-15-42 and 7-15-43).

    The City Commission ultimately wishes to utilize Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to finance improvements in the District that will incentivize private development and promote a more vibrant downtown. The Montana Department of Revenue will now be provided with the adopted DURD Plan and associated ordinance in order to proceed with calculating the taxable values of property in the district in the creation of a tax increment financing provision for the district.

    Rodney Street Area Amendment to the Helena Downtown Urban Renewal District

    Background & Update as of October 11, 2019

    The City of Helena is interested in adding the Rodney Street Area to the Helena Downtown Urban Renewal District (URD).  The proposed Rodney Street Area includes the area between 6th Street and Pine Street from Rodney Street to the edge of the existing Downtown URD boundary on Warren Street.

    The Downtown URD is intended to improve economic vitality, generate more employment opportunities, encourage investment and generally improve infrastructure.  The proposed Rodney Street Area is too small to thrive as it's own separate URD, so the City is considering adding it to the Downtown URD.

    Proposal Timeline

    May 14, 2019Focus Group Discussion of Rodney Street Area and Proposed Amendment

    July 19, 2019, Assessment of Potential for Amendment

    August 1, 2019Statement of Blight Report, a report required by Montana statute as a first step in developing a URD.

    August 8, 2019OPEN HOUSE to discuss Rodney Street Area Amendment

    September 4, 2019, Draft Rodney Street Area Amendment for Public Review

    September 12, 2019, OPEN HOUSE to discuss Rodney Street Area Amendment

    October 11, 2019, Final Draft Rodney Street Area Amendment for Public Review

    October 15, 2019, Planning Board Review of Draft Report

    November 4, 2019, First Reading and Public Hearing for Establishing a District Amendment

    November 18, 2019, Final Passage for Establishing the District Amendment

    Proposed Boundary Map  (Larger Map Available here)

    (Insert Minimized Map Picture here)

    Additional Information

    Railroad Urban Renewal District

    Railroad Urban Renewal District

    Intent & Area

    The City of Helena established the Railroad Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District in 2016, which roughly extends from North Last Chance Gulch east to Interstate I-15 and includes land for several blocks on either side of the railroad. The URD/TIF District's goals are to revitalize the area by improving economic vitality, creating jobs, and encouraging investment in targeted neighborhoods.


    The City of Helena established a Railroad TIF Advisory Board in August 2017. The Board is comprised of 8 representatives of private businesses, property owners, and residents within the district, public associations and non-profits, the Helena School District, and Helena College. The Board is tasked with completing annual work plans, reports, evaluations, and budgets and making recommendations for allocation of TIF funding and any future amendments to the Railroad Urban Renewal District Plan.

    For additional information, the following links are being provided:

    2018 RURD TIF Application

    The city is currently seeking applications for urban renewal projects within the RURD. Applications will be received on a rolling basis until available funds are expended, and each will be reviewed by the Board in the order received. Applications may address any of the following project priority areas, and may receive an award of up to 50% of the project’s cost:

    1. Infrastructural Needs
    2. RURD Sidewalk Projects
    3. Transportation Planning
    4. Demolition Program
    5. Development of a District Branding and Marketing Initiative that Reflects the Historic and Cultural/Economic Importance of the Area

    Only $40,000 is currently available to serve as project match funding for all projects, and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis for eligible projects until funding is no longer available. If applications are found to be eligible, applicants will be informed in advance of the meeting time and location. The application and criteria for review are available in the Community Development Department Office in Room 445, 316 N. Park Avenue as well as below:

    2018 RURD TIF Application Form

    2018 RURD Application Priority Areas and Criteria for Review

    City staff welcome any questions on the application process or potential projects. Please call the Community Development Department at (406) 447-8491 for further information.

    For additional information on the Railroad Urban Renewal District, please contact the City Community Development Department, City of Helena, 316 N. Park Avenue, Room 445, Helena, MT 59623, phone: (406) 447-8490, or email: citycommunitydevelopment@helenamt.gov.