The four was stop at Davis and Baxter has been overburdened for some time – but the City’s rule about holding up development within a half mile of intersections that are overburdened has caused some development plans to fizzle in the last year. With this particular intersection now resolved, it will be interesting to see if the City Commission changes their rules on other intersections.
With easement suit settled, Baxter/Davis signal gets the green light By Eric Dietrich Chronicle Staff Writer Jul 24, 2017
A rendering of a proposed traffic signal at the intersection of Baxter and Davis Lanes in northwest Bozeman, prepared by consulting engineers at Robert Peccia & Associates for the city.
City commissioners formally voted to settle a right-of-way dispute with homeowners at the corner of Baxter and Davis lanes Monday evening, clearing the way for a signal project at the west Bozeman intersection as soon as next spring.
With the signal upgrade green lit, Public Works Director Craig Woolard also said he’s now able to let development that’s been held up by the delayed signal, currently a crowded four-way stop, move forward.City policy generally prohibits new developments within a half mile of intersections it considers overburdened. Commissioners, though, decided last fall to give Woolard authority to waive that requirement when signal or roundabout projects have the land and funding secured for construction in the next three years.The Baxter and Davis signal has been high on the city’s to-do list for years, but was held up after homeowners Dianne and William Peterson declined a city offer to buy a strip of their front and side yards to make room for the expansion. The concession, the family said, would make their longtime home essentially uninhabitable.
The city filed an eminent domain case to force the family to sell, a proceeding that was working its way through the court system before the Petersons and the city reached the settlement ratified by commissioners Monday night. It specifies that the city will pay the family $140,000, roughly the sum of an earlier city offer and legal fees previously awarded to the family by a local judge.
“We’ll bid it and build it,” Public Works Director Craig Woolard said following the meeting, adding that he hopes construction will start next spring.
There are a number of other failing intersections in town that are holding up development around them because of the half-mile requirement, Woolard said. Commissioners said during Monday’s meeting that they’ll pick that issue up in August, deciding whether to amend the city policy to let development move forward even in places where budget or land constraints mean nearby intersection upgrades are more than three years away.
Commissioner Jeff Krauss, for instance, said he supports getting rid of the half-mile requirement entirely.“Right now, all over town,” he said, “developments are being held up by the application of this.”
“I think what we need to do is repeal it and try to get some housing built and some investments in some of our critical infill,” he said.The terms of the public settlement also specify that it’s contingent on the Petersons selling their five-acre property to a third-party company.
Dianne Peterson said in an interview Monday that she’s disappointed in the way the situation ended up resolved as she plans a move out of her family’s home.“No matter what happens,” she said, “we feel like we’ve given up more than we got.”
“We’re giving up our memories and our home — and it’s hard,” she said. “Our family is not at all pleased.”