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Belgrade Subdivision Reapproved by Planning Board

by Tim Hart

The Belgrade City / County Planning Board reapproved a 357 lot project this week—a project that had already been given the green light in 2006. The Ryan Glenn Estates project was once again approved, after the original project fell through during the recession. Glenn’s project went under after an Arkansas Bank that had funded the project had also folded. This subdivision is yet another recently approved development to increase home inventory and supply for the valley. Home values holding true, despite the increased inventory, reflect positively on the state of the market in Gallatin County.

With the re-approval of the subdivision, Ken Williams, one of the current owners, can now develop the land as it had been intended 9 years ago. The project will be built in 7 phases and is located at the corner of Penwell Bridge and Lagoon Roads.

The board added 3 variances to increase the city block length in the subdivision, eliminate curbs, and eliminate pedestrian ramps on the two major roads. The planning board also added a covenant eliminating future homeowners right to interfere with the nearby Gallatin Speedway. The board will also address the future of two of the lots in the development that are located on a floodplain. The board will decide whether to reshape them or eliminate them. Finally, the board wants to use cut-off street lighting to avoid light pollution in the area.

The growth of the Gallatin Valley has become increasingly evident. Subdivision projects like this one show that developers have regained their confidence that there are enough homebuyers waiting in the wings to legitimize the increase in supply. Bozeman and Belgrade’s home inventory has grown without creating many vacant lots, a positive sign for growth. Low mortgage rates and the lack of rentals in the area have created a deep source of potential buyers.

 

Source: http://www.belgrade-news.com/news/article_3f64b242-a5e0-11e4-9fe1-2bae5a6c51cc.html

Bozeman Approves Plan for Fiber Optic Project

by Tim Hart

The City of Bozeman has approved a plan to lay a fiber-optic cable network throughout the city to improve high-speed Internet availability, cost and quality. City commissioners made a few changes to the earlier plan advocates had submitted in late December.

The main change will not put the city in direct control and ownership of the cable network, but will shift the responsibility to a new non-profit that will manage and oversee the cable project.

The change will keep the city from becoming the “internet service provider.” Now, the non-profit will lease conduit from the city, but own the fiber optic cable inside the conduit. It is assumed that they would then lease to private companies who can benefit from leasing cable, rather than dig their own at a higher upfront cost.

Although not exactly a change, the city has affirmed that the system will not be targeted towards residential users, but homes near the cables may be able to take advantage and “plug in” so to speak.

Those looking for commercial real estate in the city will be happy to hear that their Internet costs will in all likelihood go down. An increased Internet infrastructure, though not directed at residential homeowners and buyers, may still lead to some benefits for them. The benefits seen from private companies may allow them to lower both home and business rates because their high up front capital costs for laying fiber optic cable may allow them to price residential more competitively.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/commissioners-again-endorse-bozeman-fiber-project/article_8bcb9ec2-a5e8-11e4-955c-0bc487d83c94.html?utm_medium=desktop&utm_source=block_953010&utm_campaign=blox

Legislators brought forth House Bill 168 for approval this week with the hopes of finding a compromise between a recent judicial ruling and the subdivision developers caught in between a major policy shift.

This October, Judge Jeffrey Sherlock ruled that developers would have to acquire water rights for wells drawing from the same aquifer (read more about his ruling here). Before his ruling, subdivisions were allowed to drill an unlimited number of small, private wells without needing a water permit. The ruling closed a loophole that allowed these subdivisions to pull more water than some farms and ranches with senior water rights without paying anything additional. However, developers who had already applied for a subdivision permit or who had even drilled a few wells were left unsure if they would now have to abide by this new policy.

With passage of the new house bill, those who had already applied before the ruling would be treated under the same requirements they had been subject to beforehand. Developers who apply as of now will be subject to the new ruling.

The bill is unique in the fact that is has been approved by both real estate and agricultural groups—groups usually at odds when it comes to Montana water rights. No opponents spoke against the bill, although 4 other bills addressing the same issue are currently being drafted.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/environment/bill-would-grandfather-wells-for-developing-subdivisions/article_7695aa7e-9c52-11e4-8474-db970fb2ff57.html

Potential Expansions Coming for Sacajawea Middle School

by Tim Hart

 

Sacajawea Middle School may see some expansions in 2016, thanks to a rising enrollment in Bozeman Public Schools. The middle school has 40 classrooms that can hold up to 750 students. If eventually approved, the middle school will join Petra Academy (private) on the list of upcoming school expansions in Bozeman, showing the continued growth of the area.

As of now, enrollment has not hit 750 students, but many of the other rooms are currently used for other purposes than a traditional classroom. Physical Education classes have taken a few of these open classrooms with aerobic equipment, weights and other resources. After looking at demand and enrollment in Bozeman Elementary schools, many officials believe the school will not be able to keep up within the next few years.

School officials have looked into hiring an architect to evaluate the feasibility of a middle school expansion. After the evaluation, the school would need to design and approve construction bonds for a fall vote in 2016 to local Bozeman residents.

The expansion project is still in very preliminary stages and ultimately may not go through. As Bozeman has grown, so have the schools. Staying ahead of the curve on space issues in Bozeman will help maintain the high quality and reputation these schools have earned.

 

Source: http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/bozeman-middle-school-looks-to-expand-facilities/30669960

State Park Attendance Up Again

by Tim Hart

Montana State Parks had more than 2.2 million visitors in 2014. Visitor totals grew by 3 percent, more than 40,000 more than in 2013. Not only that, but Montana State Parks broke the record for most visitors in their history for the second straight year.

In general, most visitors to the state parks were Montana residents—80% in fact. However, in the Southwest region of Montana (that’s us!) nearly 345,000 visitors were nonresidents. Those numbers are inclusive of the greater Yellowstone area, but not the National Park proper, which sees even higher visitation numbers. After some quick math, that meant 15.6% of the total 20% of nonresidents visiting Montana were actually visiting the Southwest Montana area. Over the past decade, state park numbers have increased by nearly 33 percent.

The percentage of nonresident visitors to Southwest Montana really stood out to me. Southwest Montana, Yellowstone, and the greater Gallatin Valley continue to see increased exposure on the national consciousness, for both its summer and winter outdoor opportunities. As more tourists continue to visit, more of these people may find themselves falling in love with the area, a feeling us Montana residents know too well.  The Gallatin Valley continues growing in part because in part, it sells itself so well to its visitors.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/state/record-numbers-visited-state-parks-in/article_1a9fa933-7ab7-53ce-8bb9-44bc14e89657.html

Gallatin County, State Swap Land for Landfill

by Tim Hart

The Montana Land Board gave the preliminary go ahead for land swap between the state and county for the Logan Landfill. The agreement should benefit both parties and avoid bureaucratic money exchanges in the future.

Currently, the Logan Landfill is owned by the state. The county actually has to lease the land and at a pretty good sum. Each year, the county pays more than $26,000 in yearly rent for the 48-acre landfill. The waste district also pays $47,000 a year to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality for its permit. Under the agreement with the state, the rent on the landfill was also designed to increase by 3% each year.  Although the Logan Landfill does not operate on tax dollars but a $27 per ton tipping fee, it still came time to get ownership into county hands.

Of course, the state will not just give land away for free, even to one of its counties. The county has paid $900,000 for a piece of land located just west of the landfill, which they have put up in a direct swap with the state. The state would gain a large revenue from the farming leases already in place on the land.

The deal could prove very beneficial to both parties. The county would not have to pay the state rent anymore, while the state would not lose the counted on funds from the landfill. Under county ownership, one would expect the landfill to have more autonomy to make necessary decisions.

 

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/county/logan-landfill-land-swap-on-track/article_8cf10efa-a1d2-5a6a-91d2-f6ba83b82eea.html?utm_medium=desktop&utm_source=block_937344&utm_campaign=blox

Manhattan Jurisdictional Area Now Taxable

by Tim Hart

The Gallatin County Commission will try to fix a nearly 36-year old loophole that allowed a 3.5 km sized district surrounding Manhattan to not pay taxes on their planning services. The district, created in 1978, was indoctrinated as a jurisdictional area. Within the jurisdictional area, as oppose to a tax district, property owners were never taxed for the planning services they received. Residents of the county and city did pay for those services.

When the problem was discovered in 1994, Manhattan and the Gallatin County entered into discussions to fix the problem. Now, with the County Commission’s approval, the County will be able to authorize mill levies to tax property owners in the district. Last year, the county paid about $3,500 for planning in the Manhattan city and surrounding area.

As of yet, no decision has been made on how much the property taxes within the district would increase. However, Manhattan has seen positive signs for new growth in the area, making planning services all the more important. Lots of new lots have been offered in the Centennial Village subdivision and an unnamed developer has been working on starting a new subdivision near Manhattan, but the details have not been made public.

Gallatin County, in general, continues to grow. Planning committees will become all the more important to keep the growth healthy, consistent and under control. Having the proper funding will keep the best people in those positions, helping keep real estate and new home construction in Gallatin County growing in a healthy manner.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/county/county-commission-set-to-fix--year-old-manhattan-planning/article_5415b898-8fbb-11e4-b622-03584dfd7f71.html

Bozeman Becoming a Ski Hub for Nation, World

by Tim Hart

Bozeman, Montana has fast become a winter sports haven for the nation and even the world. Within the last two months, Bozeman has seen major steps forward in both its Alpine and Nordic ski reputation.

Bozeman was honored by National Geographic as one of the top 25 best ski towns in the world. That’s right, not the nation, but the world.

Bozeman shared the honor with towns such as Whistler, Canada; Chamonix France; Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; Aspen, Colorado; and Zermatt, Switzerland.

According to National Geographic, Bozeman stood out as the adventure capital of the Northern Rockies. The magazine enjoyed the working town feel of Bozeman, as oppose to other ski resort towns.

But Bozeman still offers the best of both worlds, with its two very different ski areas. Bridger Bowl, the non-profit, local ski area with its intense vertical and the famous Ridge offers a more day-to-day feel. Big Sky, on the other hand, offers the family vacation route, wining and dining its patrons every step of the way.

National Geographic also pointed to Bozeman’s surrounding mountains. Places like Hyalite also offer great winter activities like skiing, snow-shoeing, hiking and ice climbing.

In other news, Bozeman’s Nordic reputation may fast improve, thanks to the hard work of passionate locals. This past month, a non-profit organization called the Bridger Biathlon Club has reached two agreements to buy both the Crosscut Ranch and Bohart Ranch Cross Country Ski Center. The organization plans on building a world-class Nordic Ski venue designed to attract everyone from locals to Olympic athletes.

The Bridger Biathlon Club bought Bohart Ranch Cross Country Ski Center with the intention of continuing and expanding its Nordic operations. The organization has also signed a 3-year lease and purchase agreement for the nearby Crosscut Ranch with Jackson Financial Group. Jackson Financial Group had purchased the 259-acre ranch in a March auction. Over the past 25 years, the Crosscut Ranch could have had many different futures. At one point, the ranch had been on the track towards becoming a 2,500-unit subdivision.

Now, with both areas combined, the new cross country ski area will become one of the better cross country areas around, with more than 500 acres of total land. The Bridger Biathlon Club hopes to raise 10 million dollars by Nov. 15th 2017 to finalize the purchase and improve the surrounding infrastructure.

The biathlon club has already installed the newest, highest quality biathlon range at Bohart to make the area into a state-of-the-art training facility for high performing athletes. Biathlon combines cross-country skiing with target shooting and the sport has seen a rise in popularity due to its recent exposure in Olympic broadcasts. The range at Bohart has 12 Olympic targets and two Paralympic targets. 

After all the upgrades are completed, the cross-country ski area is on track to become a world class training facility, making the rocky west a much more viable option for Olympic winter sport training.

Now, with talks of a new, premier ice climbing/event center potentially being built at the Fairgrounds, coupled with the town’s recent indoctrination into the Ice Climbing World Cup circuit, Bozeman seems fast on its way to becoming the snow and ice sport capital of the Northwest.

The Bridger Canyon will now have Bridger Bowl and the new cross-country ski area literally a ski run away from each other (though probably an alpine one!). Coupled with Bozeman’s access to Big Sky and West Yellowstone, its hard not to see why Bozeman’s winter sport reputation has grown. Such a reputation can do a lot to attract visitors, athletes, students and families. Those looking to move to Bozeman may now be persuaded to make the plunge, now finding the area surrounded by such activity and buzz around winter sports.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/outdoors/bohart-ranch-crosscut-ranch-sold/article_8e1bcc88-7320-11e4-8940-7b60e3defb3d.html

http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/trips/best-ski-towns-photos/#/bozeman-montana-ski_47301_600x450.jpg

https://bozemanicetower.wordpress.com/

http://www.theuiaa.org/events-111-Bozeman-UIAA-Ice-Climbing-World-Cup-Montana-United-States-2014.html

 

Under a new proposal brought to the Bozeman City Commission, Bozeman may dig public cable lines to address the poor service and high prices of private internet/cable providers. Advocates pushing a publicly owned fiber-optic cable network say that digging public lines would increase competition among internet providers, helping improve their services and prices.

The city would not provide Internet access directly but would install a common network that could be leased by private companies. Without needing heavy, upfront capital, the addition of small, private companies into the market could increase the current competition.

As more businesses store their valuable information online, having affordable, reliable connections becomes all the more important. Considering two thirds of businesses surveyed by advocates of the new proposal were dissatisfied by their internet service, increased competition may lead to better internet quality in Bozeman.

Advocates suggest that the Internet has become an essential utility and requires proper infrastructure in the city to support it. In their minds, the Internet should be dealt with in the same manner as roads and sewers.

Currently, 143 cities in the US have implemented some form of public fiber-optic cable policy. The project, if approved, would be funded with private donations and tax increment finance district funds that have been allocated for economic development. The city would not need a bond or additional money from the city’s general fund.

Once again, it’s great to see the City of Bozeman focusing and planning for the future. By listening to such proposals, even if they ultimately are not approved, Bozeman can stay on the forefronts of technology and continue being the easy, enjoyable city it has become to its residents.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/advocates-push-for-public-fiber-network-in-bozeman/article_6bce111e-84ea-11e4-b335-cf30253919e8.html?utm_medium=desktop&utm_source=block_937344&utm_campaign=blox

Bozeman Market Update - Condos and Townhomes January 2015

by Tim Hart

This month, we will highlight townhome and condo sales through November in Bozeman. Here are a few stats for all Bozeman condos and townhomes:

  • Unit sales increased from 2013 to 2014 by 16.98%. (371 sold in 2013, 434 sold in 2014)
  • Dollar volume increased from 2013 to 2014 by 34.23% ($68,926,687 in 2013, $92,523,141 in 2014)
  • Average sales price also rose from 2013 to 2014 by 14.75% ($185,786 in 2013, $213,187 in 2014)

Summary –Bozeman has seen increases in townhomes and condos across the board. With more unit sales going at higher prices, Bozeman’s condo and townhome market is healthy and growing.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 190