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Bozeman residents weigh in on balancing growth and preservation as city expands

Bozeman annexations .jpg
Posted at 5:56 PM, Jan 30, 2024

BOZEMAN — It's no surprise that the City of Bozeman has continued to grow further west and outside of its original boundaries. And as it continues to grow, the city now faces challenges as it butts up with agricultural land and tries to figure out how to balance the existing area with city growth.

“Well, you know, I don't think we can be naive to think that people aren't flocking to this area just as my family did,” says Brandon Beamer.

Beamer was born in Montana; he left for several years but recently moved back to raise his family.

“It's obviously a very attractive place to live. But yeah, it's happening very quick,” says Beamer.

Last Tuesday, a 40-acre parcel was annexed into the city; a zoning request that would have allowed high-density residential development was denied. Beamer and his neighbors are concerned about housing density on this land.

“We want to see methodical strategic development around Bozeman,” he says.

Chris Saunders is the City of Bozeman's community development manager. He’s been with the city for 28 years and has seen his fair share of annexations.

“We've probably close to doubled in size. The population is going up faster than the land area is," says Saunders.

Saunders says state law gives the city options to annex but he says Bozeman's approach is to wait for owners to join the city.

“The way Bozeman prefers to do it is by landowner petition. So that landowner comes to us and asks to join the city,” says Saunders.

Saunders says the city gets about half a dozen requests a year and city growth can fluctuate a lot.

“Times where things got quiet, as you can imagine, in the great recession, things got very quiet on the annexation,” he says.

Saunders says in recent years the city has expanded mostly north or south.

“The western boundary of the city has not moved in 25 years,” says Saunders.

He explains that the city's focus is to not grow out so much.

“Have growth inside the city. On urban services working as a city rather than exterior,” says Saunders.

Which Beamer and his neighbors are hoping for as they wait and watch what happens to their neighborhood.

“Make it all make sense, where we can meet all the needs of the citizens of Gallatin County but also protect the charm that brought us all,” says Beamer.