City hall file

Bozeman City Hall Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

The city of Bozeman approved two subdivision plans this week that will replace nearly 80 acres of fields in town with scores of new housing units.

On Monday, city commissioners approved a future subdivision on roughly 48 acres at 11th Avenue and Arnold Street, close to Montana State University. The development will include 32 houses, nine townhouses and five residential multi-household buildings.

The construction will extend roads in the area and offer a second entry point for Morning Star School.

Commissioners also approved a project called Cottonwood Major Subdivision, a 28-acre site that will include eight multi-households. The property, once used for grazing, is on the east side of Cottonwood Road, south of land owned by Town Pump and east of the Loyal Garden Subdivision.

“We have just approved probably 450 units of development in the city,” Mayor Chris Mehl said.

Building designs for both projects still need city approval. That means whatever eventually gets built on the land isn’t final.

Both projects meet priorities commissioners have preached for years.

The projects will create more places to live in a town short on housing. They’re planned on undeveloped land that’s already in Bozeman — the type of construction that commissioners have said limits sprawl.

The Cottonwood project will go on land commissioners zoned for high density. In other words, a high ratio of buildings-to-acreage.

The Cottonwood development’s park plan also exceeds city requirements and sets the stage for a walking path that could continue east and west.

Meanwhile, the Arnold Street development includes plans for a mix of housing types — a variety that commissioners say they want to see more of where possible.

Chris Bodeski, with Madison Engineering who represented both applicants, described the Arnold subdivision as an infill project.

“It has been a farm field in the middle of our community for many many years,” Bodeski said.

But commissioners said the developments are a reminder the city needs to do more to ensure affordable housing is included in future building. Only four of the future units are guaranteed to fall below market rates, which are part of the subdivision off Arnold Street.

“We’ve now approved all these units this evening and we’re getting four (affordable units),” said Deputy Mayor Cyndy Andrus.

She said that doesn’t have anything to do with the applicants, but it’s something commissioners have to recognize as they expect to see more development applications.

In 2017, commissioners passed a new rule that required developers subdividing land for stand alone houses for-sale to include a portion of affordable homes. That leaves out a lot of development, including apartments, rentals and condos.

Mehl said when commissioners made the ordinance, they believed state law wouldn’t allow the ordinance to include things like rentals. He said city leaders now believe that could change, but are still figuring out what has to happen to wrap those forms of housing in the rule.

“Of course that means things are slipping through in the meantime,” he said.

Katheryn Houghton can be reached at khoughton@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628.

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