Farmers Market

Shoppers brave a chilly morning for the 2016 Farmers Market in downtown Helena.

Gary Marshall BMGphotos.com

The regulatory framework that helps shape the look of Helena’s downtown could change.

The city of Helena has hired consultants with Orion Planning + Design, which is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado but has an office in Helena. 

The state Department of Commerce Community Development Block Grant Program is providing $25,000 of the contract’s $35,000 cost, said Sharon Haugen, the city’s community development director.

In addition to recommended changes to downtown zoning -- perhaps creating a set of regulations exclusively for the downtown -- the consultants may also suggest other, slight modifications to zoning districts, Haugen said.

These modifications would benefit the downtown or other areas of the city that share the same zoning, she explained.

Haugen said she’s hopeful that a regulatory revision for the downtown will promote development in that area of the city and aid in the implementation of the downtown master plan that was created in 2016.

Changes to downtown zoning were also proposed by the master plan that was created through a joint effort by the Helena Business Improvement District, which focuses exclusively on the downtown, and the city.

The city commission has taken an interest in the master plan and receives updates on its implementation.

The draft timetable for the zoning revision calls for several periods for public comment before completion of the project in December.

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I am a staff writer at the Independent Record covering primarily city and county governments.

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