What is Referendum 1?

Referendum 1 is a ballot initiative that would abolish our Park County growth policy. A growth policy is a long-range plan that guides the future of Park County through input from local residents and helps the county fund roads and bridges. Without it, we lose local control over how our community grows. 

Referendum 1 means…

More Traffic

More Traffic

More farms and ranches are being converted into subdivisions and luxury developments. Without a growth policy, residents won’t be able to account for the additional traffic these developments bring, and the expense to maintain and improve these busier roads will fall upon local taxpayers.

Less Funding

worse roads and bridges

If Referendum 1 passes, Park County stands to lose grant funding for infrastructure projects, such as the Shield River Road and Old Yellowstone Trail improvement projects. Park County has an operation deficit of $500,000 so we can’t afford to lose more resources needed to maintain our roads, bridges and trails

Higher Home Prices Icon

less affordable housing

Home prices in Park County are already out of reach for locals as more third homes and luxury resorts pop up. Without a growth policy, this trend could accelerate by handicapping existing affordable housing programs and by removing tools that guide subdivisions and other developments.

Worse Water Quality Icon

less oversight over Water

Referendum 1 will invite poorly planned development near our rivers and wetlands. It means local residents will have less oversight over where new septic fields, new wells, and subdivisions are located, creating more competition for water rights and limited resources.

Less Wildlife Icon

less wildlife & fewer ranches

More than 38,000 acres of working lands in Park County have been developed in the past twenty years. Without guidance from a growth policy, Park County has fewer tools to steer the next wave of development away from big game winter range and wetlands. A growth policy helps local residents protect elk, mule deer, and other wildlife habitat.


Frequently Asked Questions about Referendum 1
Is Ref 1 about county-wide zoning?

No, Referendum 1 is not a zoning document.  Ref 1 is about whether we want to keep control over our future.  A growth policy is a vision for how we want to grow as a community and reflects the values and wishes of local residents.   While a growth policy can facilitate Type 2, County-initiated zoning, it specifically sets up guidelines to allow local residents to drive those discussions. More broadly, a growth policy helps Park County address subdivision reviews, economic development, housing and infrastructure needs, and the protection of our land and water resources.   

How does Ref 1 erode my local control?

The Park County Growth Policy is our plan for the future.  In the face of rapid change and growth, it provides local residents with tools to maintain the things that make Park County special. For example, it creates avenues for residents to have a voice in the development of new subdivisions and luxury resorts. If we get rid of our growth policy, we give wealthy out-of-state people a free pass to change Park County without our input.

Will Ref. 1 impact County finances?

Yes. Park County depends on grant funding to support our tax base and assist with public infrastructure projects for roads, budgets, trails and parks. Over 20 percent of projects in the past 15 years would not have been funded without a Growth Policy. Getting rid of our Growth Policy means Park County will lose out on funding which supports public safety and local infrastructure.

What is the growth policy, anyway?

The Park County Growth Policy is a community plan intended to keep decisions about growth in the hands of local residents. It’s not a regulatory document and doesn’t impact private property rights; it is a document that can help guide how the county intends to address private property rights, subdivision reviews, economic development, housing needs, land use decisions, local services and infrastructure, while balancing the protection of our natural environment. You can find the Park County growth policy here.

Who prepared the growth policy?

The Park County Growth Policy is a locally-produced plan for our future that reflects our values and vision. Local community members were asked to help guide the creation of the Park County Growth Policy and more than 800 local residents participated in its creation through interviews, public meetings, and public comments.

What has the growth policy done in Park County?

A growth policy provides a comprehensive plan for the local government to follow, and it has been used to increase the supply of affordable housing and bring in critical funding for our roads, bridges, trails and parks. Park County has implemented many of the Growth Policies 17 goals including:

  • establishing limitations on billboards in Paradise Valley
  • creating a Park County Housing Action Plan
  • protecting county right-of-ways and easements
  • increasing the availability of broadband internet
  • updating the Park County Active Transportation Plan
  • helping Gardiner and Cooke City/Silver Gate update their sewer and water facilities
  • countywide recycling
  • protecting private property rights 
  • establishing the process for neighborhood plans, like the one being proposed in Gardiner. 
Why keep the growth policy if a new one is being worked on?

Our growth policy hasn’t been updated since 2017, and County Commissioners are currently investigating how to go about it.  However, any update could take up to five years to complete.   Referendum 1 would force Park County to operate without a growth policy during this update period.   

Does the growth policy ban or tax short-term rentals?

No. The Park County growth policy does not regulate short-term rentals.