Text Box: Executive Summary

Thirteen years ago the citizens of Bigfork created a community/neighborhood master plan for the purpose of providing a vision for the future and a plan for thoughtful and orderly growth.  The process has helped preserve the unique quality of our area.    

In early 2005, the Bigfork Steering Committee reformed as it became clear the passage of time had rendered the Bigfork planning document out of date.  Steering Committee membership was open to all, and those who attended three consecutive Steering Committee meetings were granted voting rights on all matters before the committee.  The new requirement of Montana code that all county Master Plans be updated by October 1, 2006, added to the importance of revising the Bigfork plan with the best information obtainable.  As a result, plans were formulated to conduct a comprehensive community planning survey and undertake a number of community information and consensus building events designed to gather the information needed, and to subsequently provide it as input to the Flathead County Planning Board and the Flathead County Commissioners as they revised the Flathead County Master Plan.  The information would be made available to Lake County Commissioners as well.  The survey was mailed to area voters, residents and landowners in March 31, 2005.  It was returned, and the results tabulated by August 2005.  The remainder of this document describes:
Process used to develop, distribute, score and assess the survey

Survey results merit special attention.  As will be seen in the data (below), Bigfork area residents resolutely favor preservation of the charm and character of the local environment and view community planning/zoning by an elected local body as an essential step in that process.  Respondents were unequivocally supportive of maintaining Bigfork as a safe and secure community with a rural, small-town environment.  Capitalizing on the natural beauty of the area was also rated very highly.

It is important to note that the survey results can not be characterized as anti-growth.  Rather, respondents seemed to understand that growth is inevitable, and this growth would need to serve the needs of a diverse group of citizens.  The imperative was to plan for it and do so in a manner that protects for all of us those well-documented characteristics that make Bigfork the wonderful place to live that it is.  Thus, based on the survey, planned and responsible growth consistent with Bigfork’s character is the unequivocal message of Bigfork area citizens.       
2005 Bigfork Survey Methodology

Survey Questions
Both 1992 and 1993 short and long surveys served as starting point for 2005 survey
Additional questions derived from
o	Similar community efforts in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma & Colorado (Web search)
o	Several Subcommittee meetings (June 2004 thru Feb 2005) 
§	Open and inclusive membership (public urged to participate)
§	Consensus 
o	Bigfork Land Use Advisory Committee (BLUAC) input
o	Review/input by community planning professional (Janet Cornish)
o	Review by sample group: Time and Content 

Survey Area
Flathead County school districts 38 and 4 (Bigfork schools) and Lake County school districts 38J and 73.  Lake County school districts were included as these property owners pay taxes to the Bigfork schools and their children attend these schools.