Bozeman is a special and desirable place because it is not overdeveloped and congested. Throughout the 90s and early 2000s the city and the community worked together to preserve the unique qualities that made Bozeman such a desirable place to live, work and own a business.
In the spring of 2015 developers and architects successfully worked with the Bozeman City commission to open up Downtown Bozeman to high density multi story apartment buildings. The rule change was made without proper public notice. The lack of public participation effectively kept the community in the dark until the controversial Black Olive was proposed last summer. The rule change removed long standing regulations that prevented developers from building projects that were out of scale and context with Downtown Bozeman’s’ historic charm quality of life and easy access.
The elimination of the old regulations allows multi story buildings to be built directly next to historic residential neighborhoods and old houses in the commercial district. The city has no limit on how many of these projects could be built and there are several lined up and waiting to begin construction. Further complicating matters, parking requirements intended for downtown business use are being applied for residential use in the commercial core. Developers are only required to provide one space per residential unit while the adjoining residential neighborhoods are required to provide one space per bedroom.
Save Bozeman was formed by community members and main street business owners to inform the public about the high rise rule change and the negative impacts it will have on congestion, traffic, parking, access to downtown businesses and special events we all love such as the Farmers Markets, Art walk and and Sweet Pea to name a few. Save Bozeman is not anti-growth. It’s mission reflects it positon that infill in the downtown core should benefit the community as a whole, not just developers looking to cash in and maximize profits on the effective planning of the last 20 years that has made Bozeman such a desirable place. We believe the community as whole should have say in how we grow.
After months of fruitless efforts to get the city to pause development and give the community a say in how we grow, Save Bozeman was left with no other choice but to file suit in district court. At the moment, the court has ruled in favor of placed a temporary restraining order on the City of Bozeman. Until the suit is settled or the city re-votes on the rule change with proper notice they cannot approve any projects made possible by the unlawful rule change in 2015. On Monday September 18th the commission will re-vote on these commercial design rules. While some of the commissioners appear to be sympathetic to our cause, the development lobby is very strong. Please show up and tell the City Commissioners we need well-planned development of reasonable mass and scale that preserves what makes Bozeman special. Ask the commissioners to keep developers from over-filling the downtown core with high density high rises which will forever change the character of historic Bozeman.
City Commission meeting Monday September 18th at 6 PM (make public comment) Write a letter to the City commission (agenda@Bozeman.net). For more information about how the 2015 rules were changed without public input, visit http://www.savebozeman.org/2015-rule-change. While there, visit the “Take Action” page for information on “how to” make public comment (via email, public meetings and letters to the editor of the Chronicle). If you have any questions, please email Info@SaveBozeman.org.