Stand up and be counted! What does the 2020 Census mean for Gallatin County? How city planning can help you plan for the future.

Post Date: Feb 25, 2020

What changes are on the horizon for Bozeman, Belgrade and Gallatin County? The 2020 Census can help clarify the growth we've seen and how to plan for our future.

The US Census Bureau explains, “Metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas are delineated by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and are the result of the application of published standards to Census Bureau data”.  It’s time for us to all be counted. The 2020 Census Day is observed nationwide on April 1st of this year and if Bozeman’s population exceeds 50,000 on that day, they will no longer hold the distinction of the fastest growing micropolitan in the nation. Bozeman will officially be a metropolitan city. 

The City of Bozeman’s population has increased 25% since 2010. An average of 10 people per day are moving here. Main thorough fares are being clogged with more and more traffic each day and with street construction projects on a continuum, trying to get from point A to point B can often take some navigating creativity. We are bursting at the seams.

The City of Belgrade will see the build out of 4 new subdivisions that occupy what used to be known as the Prescott Development with 1,801 units that include multi-family and single family homes. Throw an average of 2.4 people in each of those units and you’ve just raised the population by an additional 4,322 people. In 2010 the population of Belgrade was recorded at 7,389. Without including growth between 2010 and now (which would be ridiculous because we can all see what's already happened) you’re looking at a 42% growth rate in a little over a decade. Two additional subdivisions that were annexed by the City of Belgrade north of the Yellowstone International Airport are also pushing toward build out moving through the next couple of years.  Public works systems in the Gallatin Valley are being pushed to their capacity and revamped on a constant basis and managing all of this has fallen on the plate of a select group of people.

Planning and executing smart urban growth can be a challenge for any city planning department but Bozeman and Belgrade are experiencing unprecedented growth and with that, giant headaches to try to facilitate this growth in a healthy way. To help navigate through what we can see as similar growth patterns in the foreseeable future, both Bozeman and Belgrade as well as Gallatin County have master plans in play. Both city plans were updated in the fall of 2019 and are available online. Gallatin County offers a glimpse into the future of our area with a number of different mapping features available online  as well and county recently (December 2019) requested input on the fate of planning for “The Triangle”, the area that sits between Bozeman, Four Corners and Belgrade. Why do we need to know what's going on around us and how do the links below effect local residents? 

Bozeman Community Plan and Future Land Use

City of Belgrade Growth Policy Plan

Gallatin County Planning Interactive Maps

These plans are full of some very interesting information and if you are or know of anyone that will be buying or selling real estate around here, looking at the city or county master plan before making important decisions is an absolute must.

What types of things can you learn from these plans? Residents all over the Gallatin Valley have historically been lulled into a sense of comfort with status quo. Buying a house on the edge of town with a stunning view of the Bridger Mountains was at one point a fairly straightforward process but if you look closer, more specifically at these plans, you may see that the property adjacent to your dream home could be slated for commercial development or even a main artery roadway in the future. Open space today doesn’t mean open space in 5 years. Time and time again people have been packing city council and county commission meetings to voice their concerns. In many cases the city/county master plan spelled out the changes that were going to take place years ago but the homeowners didn’t realize what they were getting themselves into when they made their purchase.

The discovery phase of a real estate transaction should always include a peek at the master plan that dictates what will happen to the surrounding area of a property you’re interested in. When you start looking for a home, commercial building or the lot to build on, sit down with your real estate agent and go over the areas that interest you. Zoom in on the maps provided and make sure you have a clear picture of your expectations and how these growth plans may or may not fit into them.

If you’re looking for additional information on growth in the Gallatin Valley you can contact city or county planning divisions directly.  Be ready to be patient in waiting for a response. They're quite busy! 

City of Bozeman planning department: 406-582-2300

City of Belgrade planning department: 406-388-3760

Gallatin County Planning: 406-582-3130