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BDC – Planning Bozeman’s future: Land use map to guide future growth

As Bozeman grows, planning is growing with it. The Bozeman Community Plan being developed now is a guide for future planning decisions, especially around the perimeter of the existing city limits.

Planning Bozeman’s future: Land use map to guide future growth
By Nora Shelly Chronicle Staff Writer 8 hrs ago

The city is getting feedback on a map that will guide how land in Bozeman will be used in the future.

As part of the Bozeman Community Plan, city staff put together a future land use map that designates all the land in the more than 70-square-mile planning area under one of nine uses, from open lands to urban neighborhood uses. The map is not a binding zoning map, Bozeman community development manager Chris Saunders said, but it will guide future zoning decisions and gives a framework that the city will use when evaluating land development proposals.

“It doesn’t annex anybody, it doesn’t change anybody’s zoning. It can facilitate those actions … but it does not make the change by itself,” Saunders said. “What it does is hopefully help folks understand where the city commission is intending for the city to go.”

The future land use map is available online, and shows the past and proposed future land use designations of individual tracts in different colors.

Large swaths of dark blue account for Montana State University and other public institutions. Three gradients of pink differentiate between the downtown area, community-commercial mixed use areas, and regional commercial and services areas that account for larger commercial centers.

Other colors designate industrial, urban neighborhoods, residential mixed use areas, parks and open lands, and areas with no city services, where the city doesn’t consider development appropriate.

During a virtual public meeting Wednesday, Saunders said the map is a first step in looking at changing the city’s zoning map, which would be a separate legal process.

There are areas where the proposed map conflicts with zoning, as has been the case with past land use maps. The draft community plan suggests the city commission proactively address the mismatches, Saunders said, rather than waiting to do so on a case-by-case basis.

Wednesday was the second of three meetings scheduled for September to discuss the plan, which was drafted over the course of two years. It will replace the plan that was passed in 2009. Bozeman is required under state law to reassess the plan every five years.

The existing future land use map has 12 land designations, while the proposed one has nine, Saunders said, meaning some land will change designations just because the current use will no longer be included.

For example, business parks are not a category of the new proposed land use map, so areas with that designation are re-designated. According to the draft map, the area now designated as a business park on West College Street near S. 19th Avenue is proposed to be designated as community-commercial mixed use.

Saunders said while past maps tried to predict how and where growth would happen in the city, this map looks more long term.

“We looked at it and said there’s so many variables here, we do not want to try to play the guessing game. So this map looks at the very long term and says, if this property changes, then this is the direction the city would like to see it go,” Saunders said. “If the landowner chooses to leave it as it is today for the next 100 years, that’s just fine.”

Source: Planning Bozeman’s future: Land use map to guide future growth