Gallatin County Triangle Planning Study:

This study was commissioned by the cities of Belgrade, Bozeman, and Gallatin County. It provides recommendations to Gallatin County and the cities of Belgrade and Bozeman regarding coordination of planning for growth in the “Triangle” area of the Gallatin Valley – generally the land area in and around Bozeman, Belgrade and the unincorporated community of Four Corners. It is intended to provide a framework for how the County and Belgrade and Bozeman can work effectively and efficiently together in the future to ensure the quality of life of the citizens of the Gallatin Valley. The primary recommendation of the study is the formation of a “planning coordinating committee”, akin to the existing Transportation Coordinating Committee of the City of Bozeman and Gallatin County.

Gallatin County, Bozeman, and Belgrade Growth Policies

A “Growth Policy” contains a community’s long-range vision and goals for how they want to grow and develop in the future. The growth policies of all the local governments in the Gallatin Valley call for compact patterns of growth and encourage development within the Valley’s cities and towns.

Here are links to, and excerpts from, the community Growth Policies of the Gallatin Valley.

Gallatin County Growth Policy:

  • “A coherent pattern of land use will be established and will not sprawl across the countryside or along major transportation corridors.”
  • “Compact development is encouraged as a way to achieve an efficient use of land and infrastructure, reducing sprawl, preserving open space and creating a separation between communities.”
  • “Existing communities and neighborhoods will encourage and reward infill and contiguous development.”
  • “Agricultural, wildlife and hydrological resources will be identified and steps taken to help conserve these resources.”

Bozeman Growth Policy:

“Encourage development throughout Gallatin County to occur within existing municipalities and support the local ability to address and manage change and growth.”

Belgrade Growth Policy:

“(This plan) encourage(s) residential and commercial development to locate in, adjacent, or close to Belgrade or adjacent to existing development on marginal farmlands to retain agricultural lands, open space, and strengthen the visual distinction between city and countryside. Discourage development in unincorporated areas that do not meet basic standards of safety noise traffic and other environmentally related elements.”

Gallatin County Wastewater Study:

This study, commissioned by the Gallatin County Planning Board and completed by Stahly Engineering, analyzes the potential water quality impacts stemming from household wastewater in the “Triangle” area between Belgrade, Bozeman, and Four Corners, studies alternative solutions, and identifies a preferred alternative.

With an existing 13,000 septic systems and 135 small “community” wastewater treatment facilities (90% of which are un-permitted), and extensive growth likely, the water quality in the center of the Gallatin Valley would appear to be quite threatened by household wastewater. The Stahly study recommends that the County pursue the establishment of a modern centralized sewer plant that would provide a much higher level of wastewater treatment. Completed in 2010, the County has not acted on this recommendation, but continues to approve residential development in the area.

Here is the link to the study’s Executive Summary.

Gallatin County Fiscal Impact Analysis:

The Sonoran Institute and RPI Consulting prepared this fiscal impact analysis of future growth scenarios for Gallatin County. The study compares two future growth scenarios for the period from 2010 – 2025 – a “business-as-usual scenario that continues the sprawling growth patterns of the immediate past, and an “alternative” scenario in which most of that growth happens in the county’s cities and towns. The study then analyzes the cost to the taxpayer of building and maintaining the infrastructure (such as roads and bridges) each scenario would require. Since the sprawling scenario has fewer homes for each unit of infrastructure, and would require that infrastructure be extended much further into the rural parts of the county, it would be much more expensive for taxpayers. The study concludes that the more compact growth pattern of the alternative scenario could save the county taxpayers over $53 million between 2010 and 2025.

About Town:

This Sonoran Institute report compares the tax revenues generated by downtown properties to big box stores and strip developments. The study looked at nine communities in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming, and found that downtowns and other mixed-use centers efficiently produce tremendous value in tax revenue, particularly in comparison to big-box retail outlets and strip malls. In terms of dollars per-acre, downtown parcels bring in, on average, five times the property tax revenue as conventional single-use commercial establishments on the outskirts of town.