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Bozeman City Commissioners agreed to let the long-debated Black-Olive development have a spot downtown.

The 4-1 decision Wednesday night came after more than three hours of discussion around developer Andy Holloran’s five-story building in the space between Bozeman’s downtown and its nearby neighborhoods.

Mayor Carson Taylor said there’s been a plan for Bozeman’s downtown growth for a long time.

“And there will be inevitable conflicts as that zoning comes to fruition,” Carson said.

The Black-Olive blueprint for 202 S. Black Ave. includes 40 parking spaces for 66 bedrooms within 47 apartments. It also has a commercial space planned on the building’s ground floor.

This was the fourth time in six months the commission took public comment on the proposal. Wednesday night, more than 30 people gave testimony on what they felt Black-Olive meant for Bozeman. Of those people, roughly 20 were against the project.

Deputy Mayor Cyndy Andrus was the only commissioner to vote no. She said Black-Olive didn’t belong next to the historic neighborhood that borders the lot.

“While I understand that contemporary and innovative design of new structures is encouraged, it is my opinion … that a five-story building on this site is too intrusive in mass, scale and building form,” she said.

The 22 people who spoke against the building Wednesday night echoed her point and said Holloran’s proposal was too big and too out of character for the surrounding neighborhood, adding it would add to parking constraints.

Those who spoke in favor said the building is another step toward addressing downtown’s lack of housing and represented well-planned development.

Commissioner Jeff Krauss agreed with staff findings, which stated the property meets the city’s requirements.

He said many people have described Black-Olive as the “planting of the flag” of what Bozeman’s growth will look like.

“If you’ve forced that decision on me, and made this decision about more than just the findings that we made, then I’m going to look to the future and try to make a decision about what the future of Bozeman should be,” Krauss said.

He said the project fits city goals going back to 1983 that planned for the expansion of Bozeman’s centralized business district. Krauss added his support for Black-Olive was a vote for a walkable, livable downtown.

Commissioner I-Ho Pomeroy said Bozeman’s leaders have pushed for infill and “upward instead of outward” for years.

“We as a commission make rules,” she said. “We have an obligation to follow the rules.”

She said to do otherwise would break the trust people have in the elected body.

Commissioner Chris Mehl supported the proposal after offering an amendment that required Holloran to tweak his designs a bit on the building’s west side to taper its elevation. Mehl said that adjustment would help ease the building’s mass. The motion unanimously passed.

Because of that change, Holloran will have to submit an updated design to the planning department for approval before he can start building.

Commissioners previously denied an older version of Holloran’s development with a 4-1 vote during an April meeting, citing concerns about the lack of parking spaces.

The denied building proposal would have included 56 apartments with 37 on-site parking spaces.

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Katheryn Houghton can be reached at khoughton@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2628. Follow her on Twitter @K_Hought.

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