whole foods

Traffic on Huffine Lane speeds past a sign marking the location of the future home of the first Whole Foods grocery store in Montana, near the Gallatin Valley Mall on Thursday, July 1, 2021.

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Bozeman City Commissioners are set to vote Tuesday on the merits of an appeal filed against the site plans for the Whole Foods Market planned for the Gallatin Valley Mall.

A group called Bozeman Matters filed an appeal to the Whole Foods plans in June, which prevented the developers from acquiring building permits to start construction. Should the city commissioners vote to uphold the approved site plans, the building permits could be issued right away, though Bozeman Matters would have the option to appeal the decision in district court.

Amazon-owned Whole Foods announced in October it would be coming to the mall at the site of the former Fuddruckers. Community Development Director Marty Matsen approved Whole Foods’ plans on June 1.

The site plans call for a 30,000-square foot grocery store with an additional 10,000-square-foot building and parking lot upgrades.

Bozeman Matters’ appeal takes issue with traffic plans from the store, as well as potential stormwater impacts.

The appeal states the individuals “live or work in Bozeman and are concerned with the explosive and unbridled growth in the community.”

Kim Wilson, an attorney representing the group, said earlier this month that they were alarmed by a Whole Foods coming to town and found issues with the plans.

“I think my clients in general are concerned with the rapid pace of growth in Bozeman and just want to make sure that the city planners are keeping on top of it in a way that doesn’t add unnecessary hurdles for regular Bozeman folks in terms of traffic and those kinds of impacts,” Wilson said.

Wilson could not be reached Friday.

The appeal is similar to an ultimately unsuccessful effort begun in 2018 to block WinCo Foods from coming to Bozeman, when several Bozeman residents backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local-4 Union filed an appeal to the store’s plans, citing concerns that the store would impact traffic and threaten jobs at other grocery stores.

John Morrow, with the Gallatin Valley Mall, said Friday that he believes the site plans meet standards and will stand up to the scrutiny.

If the commissioners take their side, Morrow said they hope to get building permits the next day.

“The hearing is about the strength of our proposal, the strength of our application,” Morrow said. “I think based on that we will prevail.”

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Nora Shelly can be reached at nshelly@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2607.

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