Montana BIA Partners with Local Organizations to Tackle Zoning Reform


Zoning continues to be prominent topic of interest as the country grapples with housing affordability struggles. Montana has been actively pursuing solutions to its housing affordability issues through the creation of a state housing task force.

One of the important issues identified by the state housing task force was the need for zoning reform. Task force members included NAHB member Eugene Graf and Kendall Cotton, president and CEO of the Frontier Institute. The Frontier Institute recently released The Montana Zoning Atlas 2.0, an interactive resource that demonstrates how strict local zoning regulations exclude low- and middle-income residents and worsen Montana's housing shortage — data from which the task force was able to point to as part of its recommendations.

The organization also collaborated with local organizations, including the Montana Building Industry Association (MBIA), to create a video highlighting the need for zoning reform.

"The goal was to demonstrate the broad impact that strict zoning regulations have on all facets of the state of Montana," stated Cory Shaw, MBIA executive director, who is featured in the video. 

The video is part of a larger campaign that will include not only an upcoming press conference and series of op-eds, but lobbying efforts to support a number of state bills proposed this session that will tackle minimum lot sizes (LC1454), single-family zoning pre-emption (LC3914) and parking requirement pre-emptions (LC1509), with additional activity surrounding general revisions to zoning laws, subdivision laws, short-term rentals, manufactured homes and accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and more.

"There is a big coalition behind these bills, which is unprecedented," Shaw shared, noting additional collaboration with organizations such as the Montana League of Cities and Towns. "We're not always on the same side as all of these organizations, but there's an overlap on these issues, which is refreshing."

Shaw has shared these efforts with other executives across the country. "It's been good to see it well-received by NAHB and other associations," she added.

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