It will be interesting to see how the City of Belgrade sides on this issue. Growing pains are being felt valley wide.
Ryen Glenn residents rise up against zoning change for rental buildings
by Michael Tucker,Jun 29, 2017 Belgrade News
A standing-room only crowd got their wish to quash a developer’s proposal to build more than two dozen apartment buildings in a subdivision on the city’s north side when the Belgrade City-County Planning Board unanimously rejected the zoning change.
After scanning the crowd at Belgrade City Hall Monday night, city planner Jason Karp said it was the largest group he has seen in his 22 years with the city. Ryen Glenn Estates residents showed up to protest a zone change on an eight-acre parcel along the northern edge from single-family residential to a medium density designation. The change would allow developer Ben Nistler to build 28 four-plex apartments for a total of 112 dwellings.
Two of the key findings in Karp’s staff report indicated the additional dwellings would change the development’s original analysis of water and sewer usage and traffic counts. New engineering predictions would be required and reviewed by the public works department.
Nistler told the board he “did not anticipate tipping over the beehive” with his proposal, but rentals are needed in the burgeoning Gallatin Valley.
“People approach us for multi-family residences,” he said. “The quickly growing demand is outpacing supply. Prices have shot up out of reach, and this will help fulfill demand.”
Residents said they bought and built homes in the subdivision solely based on its single-family zoning designation. A zoning change, they said, would be in bad faith, create infrastructure hardships and change the character of the neighborhood.
Blake Christensen, a spokesman for the residents, praised Nistler for the quality of the subdivision, but said “a different kind of investment occurs with a single landlord and tenets,” compared to “investments” made by single-family homeowners.
During Nistler’s rebuttal, after scores of residents testified against the plan, the developer said he was willing to pull the proposal for the 28 apartments in order to meet with homeowners on a design change. But he still wanted the board to approve the zoning change.
The board denied his request and recommended the Belgrade City Council do the same. The planning board is an advisory committee and only makes recommendations to the council.
In his discussion, former councilman and board member John Youngberg gave a brief history of Ryen Glenn. The council approved the subdivision with the caveat that lots along the edges would be less dense to appease the concerns of the agricultural community and rural homeowners.
Homes along the edge of the development are zoned RT1 that requires 20,000-square foot lot sizes. Lots in the interior are zoned with the denser R1 category at 10,000-square feet. Youngberg also said high-density zoning should be a transition between residential and mixed-used zoning, and not an island in a single-family development.