Bozeman commissioners reject controversial housing development

Bozeman commissioners reject controversial housing development

BOZEMAN — After nearly five hours of intense discussion, the Bozeman City Commission voted to deny the development of controversial affordable housing project, The Guthrie.

The 111-unit, five-story housing complex was proposed for the corner of 5th and Villard, by HomeBase Partners, using deep incentives under the city’s affordable housing ordinance to increase its height and slash parking to only 37 spaces.

Originally the project was going to bypass public review, but per resident request, commissioners reclaimed the project in April.

Many residents say they are frustrated with the lack of representation saying, “I want you to listen to the people. This is a full house. Please listen to our community.”

Tensions ran high during the meeting. Some even suggested that commissioners were “shilling” for developers.

This prompted a response from acting city manager Chuck Winn: “They are not shills for any developer. They are simply following the code this commission has adopted. And the character assassinations for these fine professionals—if you want to be mad at the staff, be mad at me when I’m sitting in the city manager’s chair.”

At 9:15 p.m., more than 20 people stood up to give public comment. Most opposed the development, citing concerns over traffic, parking, and neighborhood integrity.

But others said, “This type of development is literally how we fix traffic. By building dense housing in areas where people can walk across the street to a food truck court rather than driving across town to get dinner. That’s how we fix traffic.”

Among many other concerns, Commissioner Jennifer Madgic stated the building seemed cramped to the point of dysfunction. Others were unconvinced as to whether the units could even be considered one bedroom at only 400 square feet.

Commissioners Fischer, Madgic, and Deputy Mayor Morrison voted to reject. Commissioner Bode and Mayor Cunningham voted to approve.