Some Bozeman homeowners are accusing the city of breaking state and city rules by increasing how many buildings are allowed on roughly 2 acres and harming their neighborhood in the process.

The argument revolves around a zoning change Bozeman commissioners approved last year that upped the density for 2.29 acres off Baxter Lane to a “residential high density district.” The land is close to neighborhoods and the future Bozeman Sports Park.

Nine nearby residents filed a complaint against the city of Bozeman in Gallatin County District Court in December to void the decision, saying it didn’t fit with the area’s surroundings.

The city has denied it did anything wrong. This week, Rainbow Creek Rental Properties, the company that requested the change, entered its own response to counter the complaint and argue it has the right to stick to the new zoning.

The complaint alleged the change violated Bozeman codes and failed to respect the plaintiffs’ neighborhood character and quality. It also claimed the change broke state law by spot zoning, which means singling out a small piece of land with a use completely different from its surroundings.

“The plaintiffs were drawn to the neighborhood because of the quality of the neighborhood resulting from the R-1 zoning, which is residential, low density, providing primarily single-family households on larger lots within the city,” according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs are Jason Hinds and Angela Hinds, Edward Hook and Barclay Hook, William Darden and Judith Darden, Scott Vonger and Gretchen Linder.

The city responded Bozeman’s rules speak for itself and argued it was plaintiffs’ “negligence in miscalculating the market for their properties.”

In an email Thursday, Bozeman spokesperson Melody Mileur said the city would continue to litigate the complaint.

“We believe that decision by the Bozeman City Commission to approve the zone map amendment was legal and legitimate,” Mileur said.

The city’s defense added it had not yet approved any development plans for the property.

City commissioners approved the change during a Nov. 26 meeting with a 4-1 vote after allowing the once county land to enter Bozeman limits. There were 20 letters from homeowners trying to stop the change and two in favor of it.

The majority of commissioners said while the zone designation may be difficult for existing residents, it fits the “character of the district.” Commissioner Jeff Krauss approved bringing the land into Bozeman but voted against the zone change and questioned whether it belonged.

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

Katheryn Houghton is the city government and health reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.