Finding a home anywhere in Gallatin County is a difficult task. Homes go on-and-off the market in a matter of days. Rental properties leave much to be desired either in extreme cost for little space or lack amenities.  

I know how hard it is to find a “forever home”; more than just a place to lay your head at night, but an oasis retreat to call “yours” for generations to come.

When my husband was suddenly and unexpectedly displaced from a 14-year job, we had to look far and wide to find another job to fit the demands of our family’s needs. Montana wasn’t in our long-term plans and we had never heard of Belgrade. Gratefully, my husband was able to find suitable employment and we spent nearly a year with him driving six hours home on the weekends only to turn around and head back on Monday morning.  

We did our research and decided that Belgrade would be the best fit for our children academically and we loved what the community had to offer. After searching online from another state and sending my husband to see potential homes in his “off” time, we ended up driving our family to Belgrade on a few weekends to find a home.  

We viewed 27 homes all together 

that were either unfit to inhabit without some serious overhaul, too far out in the boonies to feel connected to the community or just too small for our needs. We had our Goldilocks moment in finding our “Just Right!” home in Ryen Glenn. The views are spectacular. The neighbors are incredibly friendly and responsible. Even the builder and developers exceeded our expectations. 

I was so happy to find a home in a single-family zoned area. Do you know how unique that is in Belgrade? There are only three areas currently designated as R1 – also known as single-family dwelling space. This would be a place where our children would be safe enough to walk down the sidewalks, ride bikes, and enjoy our backyard. I am so happy to not have neighbors close enough to tap on their windows through my own to “pass the Grey Poupon.”   

We were so excited to set down roots again and build a life here in Montana, in a city not on our radar two years ago. We found our home and have really enjoyed living here finally all together for the past year.  Belgrade has been a great place to live and we love the small town feel, the sense of community commitment and the beauty of where we’ve chosen to live. 

My “Goldilocks Moment” is gone and I am left feeling like Little Red Riding Hood facing the Big Bad Wolf in Grandma’s clothes. Imagine our surprise when we learned on Friday that our developer has decided to try to rezone part of our subdivision from R1 (single family homes), to R3 (multi-family units) and with a PUD proposal for a 28 building four-plex – totaling 112 apartment units, without notifying us.  In addition, this proposed development backs up against agricultural land currently zoned R1T, which needs and allows for additional transition space to protect the integrity of the agricultural land it is adjacent to. 

On top of that, this proposal  has allotted a whopping 517 parking stalls (roughly the same amount as Costco’s parking lot), and intends to use open space already allotted for the single family density dwellings currently planned for, instead of developing more open space within this 8 acre parcel of land. Besides the light pollution, noise, constant overturn of the neighborhood, undesirable rise in crime, drugs and lack of community responsibility that these types of developments bring with them, I am most concerned with two important factors – traffic and services. 

This proposed development would be situated in an area with no main traffic artery. All streets connecting to this are secondary and tertiary streets. This leaves those 517 spaces with 517 cars zipping through Roundup and Fairview. Fairview happens to be on the corner by my home a mere 200 feet away. I have young children who will not be safe to ride around the block because of the traffic that will be increased from the originally proposed 17 – 35 single-family homes to the 112 apartments. In addition, the only main arteries leading to this subdivision are Dry Creek Road and Penwell Bridge Road.  An increase in traffic in these areas would be a strain in the best weather and a nightmare in the winter.   

The second, far greater issue that affects all of Belgrade is the impact a large development like this will have on services provided including water and sewer and greater demand placed on an already stretched thin police force and fire department. 

The question I would pose to you as a growth conscious citizen, is this fiscally responsible to put such high demands on current infrastructure to sustain 112 apartment units in 28 four-plexes in an area already zoned and planned for a maximum of 35 single family homes? I do not believe it is in any taxpayer’s interest to support the proposed rezoning from R1 to R3, nor do I believe it is morally responsible to create another “Below-Grade” development in Belgrade. As a community we need to raise the bar to invest in families who will choose to make this city their forever home, like we have. We cannot do so if we do not have areas for single-family dwellings that are safe and beautiful areas. 

Please don’t misunderstand me; I am not implying we don’t need more housing options. I am asking there to be more thoughtful consideration for all involved to be able to make wise decisions regarding resources, services and the impacts any type of development will have in any part of Belgrade. Rezoning Block 9 of the Ryen Glenn Estates Subdivision from an R1 and R1T to an R3 designation doesn’t fit the character of the surrounding community, nor is it a responsible decision for the betterment of Belgrade as a destination city. 

If you feel, as I do, please make your voice heard at the next Belgrade City Council Meeting on Monday, July 3 at 7 p.m. at City Hall located at 91 East Central Ave.