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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 19

Library Receives 300k to Get Mobile Library Rolling

by Tim Hart

In late February, The Bozeman Public Library crafted plans to bring books to local residents who might not be able to make it to the library themselves. Now, with a 300,000 dollar donation, the library is 5/6 of the way to their fundraising goal. The donation came from a private person—really showing Bozeman’s community driven perspective in its essence.

The bookmobile will need anywhere from 9 months to a year to become fully operational and library staff will still need to decide the size of the new mobile library. Current plans include having a wi-fi hotspot along with iPads and laptops to create a true library feel. Of course, the mobile library will also have lots of books that they can distribute to those who cannot make it to the library themselves. Seniors and children have been pointed to as the main target audience.

Bozeman continues to be community focused—making sure the whole community gets access to the best Bozeman can offer. It’s no wonder that so many people continue to choose Bozeman as their top living destination.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/donor-gives-library-for-bozeman-library-bookmobile/article_38d0313d-faa0-5ba6-8d36-532fd7239aec.html

Land off Stucky Road Considered for Annexation

by Tim Hart

Bozeman City Commissioners will vote next Monday on whether to annex a piece of land off Stucky Road in order to zone it for apartment style residences. The commission has seen several bids to annex additional land into the city in the last year. Bozeman continues to find ways to add additional home inventory to keep home values reasonable.

The land off Stucky is currently set for agricultural use and nearby farms are concerned about adding more residential lots on high quality, useable soil. Both farmers and developers made their pleas to the City Zoning Commission and though the zoning commission voted 2-1 against rezoning the parcel, the decision ultimately rests with City Commisioners.

Bozeman continues to search for land and strategies to help keep the real estate in the Gallatin Valley affordable. The city has looked at narrowing lots and has given a high number of building permits to increase inventory. Bozeman will need to strike a healthy balance between keeping prices reasonable and growing in a healthy, planned out manner.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/bozeman-commission-to-consider-stucky-road-annexation/article_5cd77da9-11f6-5bfc-93c3-f206be50835e.html

 

Bozeman City Commissioners rejected the proposal by Bozeman area builders to lighten parkland requirements to make homes more affordable. They city remained open to the idea of lowering lot size requirements to increase inventory and lower prices of homes in Bozeman.

Bozeman builders were asked by City Commissioners to come up with several proposals in mid March to lower the prices of homes in the area. Despite high permit requests, new construction has not alleviated rising home values. Builders pushed for less mandated parkland in new subdivisions—a request, they believed would help lower prices while keeping their jobs affordable and feasible. City code currently specifies that 0.3 acres be set aside as parkland for each dwelling unit in new subdivisions. Builders believe that not being able to use this land has been a major cost driver for home values because there are less total homes available in Bozeman. Their proposal was denied outright by the city.

They came with another alternative as well, one that is still being considered by commissioners—lowering lot size requirements. Current minimum lot size is set 5,000 sq. ft. but builders want this lowered to 2,000 sq. ft. Again, this would be to raise home inventory, and having more homes would lower existing prices based on competition.

Other proposals included subsidizing impact fees and improving down payment assistance programs, but both would need public funds and much more deliberation to be considered.

The city was open to lowering their lot sizes, but they did not decide on what size they would be comfortable with moving forward. The city has also looked into adding more “pocket neighborhoods,” based on how their experiment in the Lakes at Valley West is received. When the decision comes from commissioners on how they will tackle affordability, it will be a major decision that affects home building, home prices, and the overall Bozeman real estate market for years to come.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/bozeman-area-builders-push-lower-parkland-requirements-for-affordable-housing/article_8f2bed8e-1336-5886-90d5-da47ca9f5357.html

http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/commission-nixes-cutting-parkland-backs-other-housing-affordability-ideas-in/article_674d68ae-5009-5843-80d9-907a800ca279.html

 

 

As many local Bozeman residents have surely figured out, a new apartment complex will be coming to the MSU area, south of the football stadium, to help ease the rental vacancy issues in Bozeman. Bozeman has been attracting more and more new residents of late as it has become one of the nation's most liveable towns. Both the local public schools and MSU have seen increased enrollments--also putting strain on the rental market. The apartments will add nearly 500 renters, but whether that will make any major changes to the overall market are yet to be seen.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 3,200 additional renters have been added to the Bozeman market since 2010, assuming half of the new non-student residents are renting and not buying. If this is the case, and with 888 new apartments and 371 multi-family units built since 2010, the Bozeman Chronicle believes that Bozeman is still short on rental inventory.

Bozeman has been working with consultants, builders and Montana State University to help ease the high costs of renting in the area. Nationally, renters have been struggling with affordability issues as well as vacancy issues and Bozeman has seen similar concerns. The surrounding areas of Bozeman have provided residents with some respite, offering better rental prices.

Bozeman has been adding more inventory through new apartments and in some cases new subdivisions to help keep prices manageable. The apartment complex is another effort to help create a more positive rental market in the future.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/new-construction-may-help-ease-rental-market-pain/article_97dc4d16-7866-577b-927d-42451dea827a.html

Potential New Development off Manley Road?

by Tim Hart

Tonight, Bozeman City Commissioners will decide whether re-zoning a piece of land out in the Manley Road area for residential use is feasible and makes sense for the city moving forward. If they decide yes, the owner of the land will move forward developing the area.

The 6.5 acre piece of land in question has had some zoning confusion to say the least—a very boring sounding topic that somehow can end up quite fascinating. Currently, the city has that land designated for future use as parkland. However, the County has the land designated for light industrial use (pretty mutually exclusive from parkland). The best part, neither have actually incorporated the land at all. The city would need to annex the land to develop it and moving to a residential designation would allow them to do so.

The piece of land is surrounded on 3 sides by city limits and access to the nearby recreation area and pond is protected by a permanent easement.

Now, if the situation didn’t sound complicated enough, this very same piece of land used to be used as a dumpsite from 1962 to 1970. Coupled with the poor recent history with dumpsites, what may have been a hard decision for the City of Bozeman got a lot harder. Environmental concerns will be a major factor on whether the new development is approved.

For this specific scenario, we can only hope the city makes a decision that will bring the highest benefit to its residents in the long run and that recent concerns, whether its the dump or current home inventory, will not affect the decision, no matter which way they ultimately decide to go.

From a real estate perspective, this story is a great reminder why its so important to cross every i and dot every t when performing due diligence on any information surrounding a property. How is it zoned? Are there any easements? How was the land used in the past? Some pieces of land (and sometimes homes too!) have had long, deep histories where others may have little to none. With as much land as there is Montana, we get the best of both untouched land and land with deep history.  Make sure you are buying what you want and that you have a realtor who can make sure you are buying a good product.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/bozeman-commission-to-consider-zoning-change-for-development-near-old/article_8b0ccbac-2541-58e7-933d-3aeda25cb4d2.html

Bozeman to Reconsider Historic District Regulations?

by Tim Hart

The City of Bozeman will pay $60,000 for an in depth study reviewing the effects of its Historic Conservation Overlay District on the local real estate market. There will be a meeting at 6 pm on Tuesday in City Hall to discuss Bozeman’s next steps.

The Historic Conservation Overlay district is in the heart of Bozeman and is designed to protect old historic structures that contribute to Bozeman’s look and culture. The district encompasses 3,000 properties in Bozeman.

If any of these 3,000 properties want to adjust, renovate or change the exterior appearance of their home, city planning needs to review and approve the changes. On average, the city deals with around 300 applicants a year.

The Overlay District was first enacted when 3 historic homes were demolished for a now closed Pizza Hut on Babcock Street. Since its enactment, the district has succeeded to preserve the historic character of Bozeman. Bozeman recently was honored as a top 100 location in the US for livability--and the city's character certainly affected that rating.

Now, Bozeman has grown concerned that they are over impacting home affordability in town. Each new application for approval takes time and money, not just from the property owner, but from the city as well, and therefore the taxpayers. The city and builders alike have tried to find alternatives to help lower home values in Bozeman. The district has also become a highly sought after location in town and the district has seen property values rise. Those values could also be rubbing off on nearby neighborhoods and even affecting all of Bozeman’s affordability.

Bozeman would like to find out whether this is the case or not. The study will make its final presentation to City Commissioners in September.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/consultants-to-evaluate-bozeman-s-historic-preservation-regulations/article_e448c583-d28b-5985-9626-a458922612f0.html

 

I read a wonderful editorial written by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that discusses Bozeman’s overall health and how that connects into the city’s cultural and economic growth. The writer draws some positive conclusions between the amount of public trails available in the area and the city’s overall health.

According to a University of Wisconsin, the Gallatin County was the healthiest county in the state for the sixth year running. In another recent study, Headwaters Economics concluded that well developed trail systems highly impact a number of quality of life issues in any town, both economic and societal. Could they be related? The writer says yes, of course, and highlights that trails can provide a lot more to a town than just physical health.

Trails are considered a “high amenity asset” that benefits businesses, increases property values in the nearby area and promotes overall public health, according to the Headwaters Economics report. The Gallatin County leads the state in low unemployment, Bozeman’s technology industry continues to attract more and more workers to Bozeman, while single-family and multi-family properties alike have seen their values increase rapidly in the last year as well. These facts suggest that the study may not be too far off from reality.

Headwaters Economics has also released figures highlighting the Gallatin County’s economic and popular growth and have also suggested this might be linked to the high amount of public land in the area. Their reports fall in line with the author’s opinion, that the local trails around Bozeman have directly helped lead to the town’s continued growth and prosperity. For the writer, the trails are necessary—not a luxury—and the writer pointed to the 15 million dollar open space and trails bond that was passed in 2012 as evidence that most Bozemanites think similarly.

From a real estate perspective, having nearby activities within walking distance of any home can really add value to that home. When the activity is nature based, healthy, and of course, free, it can attract buyers who may not have looked in a certain neighborhood or street otherwise. Bozeman continues to be a very healthy, positive environment, so it is no surprise that people want to move to Bozeman.  The writer of the article concludes that one of Bozeman’s greatest assets is that people want to move to Bozeman, they don’t have to move to Bozeman. So long as Bozeman remains a “want” place and not a “have to” place, we should expect to continue seeing the growth and prosperity it has enjoyed in recent years.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/opinions/editorials/no-accident-that-bozeman-stays-healthy/article_e3c2c0a5-2a48-58df-949f-f21275c36cbc.html

 

Bozeman School District Enrollment Increases

by Tim Hart

The Bozeman School District will be adding 170 more students next year, highlighting Bozeman and the surrounding area’s continued growth. Last year, Bozeman schools had their highest enrollment ever and it looks like the record won’t make it through the calendar year.

In addition to the 170 new students, administrators will hire 11 more teachers to better educate the additional students. In order to make those hires, the 2015 legislature will need to pass the public schools bill in April. Luckily, the bill dealing with inflation costs has already passed.

Elementary and middle schools will increase by 167 students next year. That is a 3.8% increase from the 2014 to 2015 school year when 4,321 students were enrolled in elementary and middle schools. The high school only added 3 new students. From a real estate perspective, the enrollment totals suggests that Bozeman is still very much a family town—and new families looking to move here, tend to make that move early. With the nearby schools, public lands and outdoor activities, its easy to see why Bozeman would be a big draw for young families looking to live in Bozeman for an extended time.

As enrollment increases, Bozemanites may have concerns that the quality of the education may be diluted. However, this year suggests otherwise. Bozeman High School was honored for its students high Advanced Placement Exam scores and ACT scores. The high school was also awarded two grants for studies in mental health and mathematics. Longfellow, one of the local elementary schools, won a department of education honor as a Blue Ribbon School.

The Bozeman School District still remains the gold standard for schools in the area. It is no wonder that more and more families move to Bozeman to educate their children in such a positive learning environment.

 

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/education/bozeman-schools-look-to-fund-growing-enrollment/article_b8d7b23e-41eb-5af5-b2e5-5f98078322d9.html

 

Montana High Tech Industry Expanding Rapidly

by Tim Hart

The High Tech and Manufacturing Industry is growing quickly in the state of Montana. The High Tech Business Alliance (HTBA), a conglomerate of high tech companies in the state of Montana, was surveyed by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) to diagnose the health of Montana’s high tech industry. Turns out, the state of the high tech industry isn’t just healthy, its skyrocketing.

According to the BBER report, the industry has accounted for a large amount of the total revenue and wages in Montana.

HTBA members grossed 632 million dollars in sales, which has helped them both raise their wages and take on additional employees.

These HTBA companies paid $139 million in pay roll. Employees, on average, have been earning twice the salary as those in other industries. Currently, they are averaging $50,702 a year. Even better, many of the HTBA members are planning on raising wages by 7% in 2015.

Over 2015, these companies hope to add 400 new jobs—a 15% increase. Some companies have projected their growth rates to be 8 to 10 times higher than the state’s overall economic growth rate.

From a real estate perspective, the most eye opening quote in the report described the reason why the industry may be booming. After reading the quote, it is easy to see a parallel in what is attracting both workers and new homebuyers to town.

"HTBA members find that Montana’s quality of life its lifestyle, the work life balance available here, the recreation opportunities, and the beauty of the landscape provides them a significant advantage in business."

The same qualities mentioned above are often top attractors in real estate as well. Usually, the same qualities of an area are attracting new workers and new homeowners.

Reports released earlier this year by the University of Montana and Headwaters Economics, has shown that growth in industries like the high tech industry, have put Gallatin County as the state’s leader in economic growth. The Headwaters Report suggested that the area’s growth had a lot to do with the nearby activities and public land. Bozeman has a deep culture, with arts and events readily available. It is also a very easy town to live in and its easy to commute to outdoor destinations. And, as most of the high tech companies have found homes in either Bozeman or Missoula, it seems clear that the surrounding valleys, parks and activities do a lot to attract out of state people to Montana.

The City of Bozeman has targeted the tech industry as a crucial aspect of their economic development plan. The report was produced using a survey of 78 of the 143 members of the HTBA.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/economy/study-montana-high-tech-industry-growing-fast/article_cf7a3b06-d873-5821-ac63-1812ae2a33dc.html?utm_medium=desktop&utm_source=block_937344&utm_campaign=blox

 

http://mthightech.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/HTBA-Survey-Final-Report.pdf

 

Eminent Domain in Bozeman Montana

by Tim Hart

On Tuesday, the City of Bozeman grappled with employing one of the more interesting real estate practices – eminent domain. Eminent domain is when a government body forcibly purchases private land from an individual for the overall benefit of the public. Eminent domain can be a very hot topic because it draws people’s basic political philosophies on the government’s role towards its people into a real estate conversation—two things I think most of us would like to keep at a comfortable distance from each other.

In this specific case, a property owner nearby the land in question wanted to develop his own land. The Bridger Creek HOA did not grant him an easement that would have allowed him to connect the development to city water and sewer lines and building emergency roads. The HOA said its members were not interested in having more developments nearby. When they couldn’t settle the dispute between each other, they turned to the city to solve the matter. If Bozeman were to take eminent domain over the land, then the owner would be allowed to connect his utilities to city lines.

Bozeman, however, decided not to get involved and not annex the land. The city felt that such a drastic measure did not match up with the number of citizens who may benefit down the line. However, several commissioners saw the HOA’s attempt to block the eminent domain request as a thinly veiled way to fight any future development in the area.

Eminent domain is one of the more interesting real estate topics. In general, it’s a tool best used only when necessary because more often than not someone has to come out the loser.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/bozeman-commission-nixes-eminent-domain-request/article_2f49a8e5-86a0-5a67-8e88-509778eb54f3.html

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 19

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