GALLATIN GATEWAY, Mont. - Residents packed the Gallatin County Commission meeting to speak out against a proposed subdivision south of Bozeman. Discussion and comment on the proposed Gateway Village subdivision stretched more than seven hours.
Gateway Village would be located to the east of Highway 191, adjacent to the Exxon station.
The 54 acres would be divided into 191 lots with four commercial lots. It would include park area and over two miles of trails and pedestrian paths. It would also have water and sewer systems. Development would consist of five phases.
Property owner David Loseff listened to discussion regarding the proposed Gateway Village. He told us he believes the project meets a need in the area.
"What we're trying to do is come up with an affordable, residential community which has trails, which has walkability, which has -- primarily -- affordability because we believe there's a profound crisis, shortage of affordable housing," explained Loseff.
When it came time for public comment, people like John Hunzinker expressed their enthusiasm for the project. Hunzinker told commissioners the development would bring new life to a town in decline.
"I think Gallatin Gateway is missing an opportunity to influx young people, with their energy and their income, into a small town," he said.
Sandra Ellis is retired. She says she's staying in a condo in Bozeman until Gateway Village is approved.
"I've been anxiously waiting for this project to be approved. I think they've done a wonderful presentation and I think this can only enhance the community," said Ellis.
But the majority of residents who weighed in opposed the project.
"There are a lot of people trying to find any reason to block the project. The reality is, change is very disruptive and very threatening to people," Loseff said.
Folks involved in the small school district cited concerns over a sudden, significant increase in enrollment. They said they're not prepared for a development of this size. Others raised concerns about a strain on the volunteer fire department.
A number of residents also said they're worried about the increased amount of traffic, especially around 191.
"It is too dense for a little unincorporated town like Gallatin Gateway. It'll be too much of a burden on our local services -- fire and school -- and the way it is currently designed...will make Highway 191, from Cottonwood Road to Gooch Hill Road, a death trap," explained Gallatin Gateway resident Judy Hingle.
While many residents say they're not opposed to growth, they say they are opposed to Gateway Village.
"We don't want to be the next Four Corners, and when we broke that down, people were really worried about all the impacts of high-density development, and also really changing the character of town," said Gallatin Gateway resident Diane Volkersz.
In the end, commissioners unanimously voted against preliminary approval of the subdivision, all citing different reasons for doing so. They told us developers will now have to start over with their plans if they want to move forward.