Community Development Brochures
- Accessory Dwelling Unit - Info Sheet
- Administrative Appeals - Info Sheet
- Alcohol Licensing Help Sheet
- Annexation of Property - Info Sheet
- Certificate of Appropriateness - Info Sheet
- Conditional Use Permit - Info Sheet
- Development Impact Fees - Info Sheet
- Development Review Process Brochure
- Development Review Process Brochure
- Growing Your Own Food/Landscaping - Info Sheet
- Growth Policy Amendments - Info Sheet
- Impact Fees - Info Sheet
- Initial Project Review Brochure
- INT - Intake Form Example
- Licensing Your Business - Info Sheet
- Long Range Planning & Growth Policy - Info Sheet
- National Register of Historic Places - Info Sheet
- Occupancy Review Checklist 090519
- Planned Unit Development - Info Sheet
- Project Review Process - Info Sheet
- Signage in Bozeman - Info Sheet
- Site Plan Review - Info Sheet
- Solar in Bozeman - Info Sheet
- Subdivisions & Subdivision Exemptions - Info Sheet
- Variances - Info Sheet
- Zoning Text and Map Amendments - Info Sheet
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I update a Montana Property Record Form?
The Department of Community Development may ask the applicant to create an updated cultural resource evaluation of a property before reviewing a redevelopment proposal for the site. The Montana Property Record Form is the best method for evaluating a property's historic significance and eligibility for historic designation.
The Property Record Form is created by the Montana State Historic Preservation Office. The form should be completed by a professional architectural historian.
What incentives are available for Historic Preservation?
Federal & State Financial Incentives:
The federal Tax Credits for Historic Preservation offer a 20% income tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic, income producing historic buildings. The program is administered through the National Park Service in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service. More information, including how the tax credit works, is available on the NPS’ website. The State of Montana offers an additional 5% historic preservation tax credit for properties which utilize the federal 20% tax credit.
In order to qualify for the tax credit, the planned work must satisfy the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The word “Rehabilitation” has a specific meaning in historic preservation terminology. “Rehabilitation” is defined as “the process of returning a property to a state of utility, through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions and features of the property which are significant to its historic, architectural and cultural values.”
Who should I contact?
The Montana State Historic Preservation Office (MT SHPO) “certifies” that the rehabilitation project satisfies the Standards for Rehabilitation. Contacting the (MT SHPO) early in the process is highly recommended. The Historic Architecture Specialist at the MT SHPO is a fantastic resource for assistance in Tax Act project development and review as well as technical assistance for structural rehabilitation and restoration. Phone number: (406) 444-7718
Contacting a preservation consultant or an architect with past historic preservation experience is also highly recommended as you consider utilizing these tax credits. The language and terminology used to certify the project is sometimes arcane and professional assistance can smooth the process.
City financial incentives:
The City of Bozeman offers a Tax Abatement for Historic Preservation, which can be used for both income producing properties and privately owned historic homes. This program offers a five year “abatement” of increased property taxes for projects which satisfy the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, with a focus on the Standard for Rehabilitation. This program offers an additional one year abatement during the construction period. Certification that the project satisfies the ordinance happens during the Certificate of Appropriateness review process.
May I add an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) to my property?
For properties Zoned R-S or R-1, it is possible to add a dwelling unit within an existing residence as an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU).
Please note that development of an ADU must meet all of these requirements:
- R-S or R-1 zoning districts;
- One of the two dwelling units must be occupied by the property owner;
- One off-street parking space must be provided for the ADU occupant;
- Occupancy of the ADU cannot exceed 2 people;
- ADUs are only allowed above garages in subdivisions platted after January 1, 1997 (this excludes all of the Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District);
- Must meet all lot area, utility, setback and height standards;
- ADU cannot be larger than 800 square feet or have more than a single bedroom;
- Second story additions on detached garages must be compatible with the neighborhood;
- The lot must be 6,000 square feet
- The ADU cannot exceed one-third of the total area of the principal structure;
- New additions to create the ADU cannot exceed 10% of the existing structure’s principal area;
- The ADU entrance must be located in a rear or side yard;
- Must receive a Conditional Use Permit;
- No deviations for lot area or parking requirements;
- Are subject to public notice if inside the NCOD.
ADUs are subject to a Certificate of Appropriateness and Building Permit review, as well as Impact Fees. ADUs are allowed in detached accessory structures in properties with R-2, R-3 and R-4 zoning designation.
What do I need to know about the demolition of structures in the NCOD?
Demolition of Principal Structures
A Certificate of Appropriateness is required, and a public notice period is required if the principal structure is historically significant. The subsequent development of the parcel must be approved prior to approval of The COA. Municipal Code prohibits the issuance of a demolition permit for any structure, regardless of historic significance, prior to issuance of a building permit for the subsequent development.
Demolition of Accessory Structures
Demolition of accessory structures also requires a Certificate of Appropriateness in the NCOD.
All new construction must satisfy the modern regulations and setbacks of Bozeman’s Unified Development Code. Demolition of non-conforming structures erases the legal non-conformity. For example, demolition of an accessory garage sitting on the property line would mean that the new accessory garage would be subject to the minimum 5 foot side yard setback and minimum 6 foot rear yard setback for new accessory structures under 600 square feet.
Bozeman Municipal Code identifies demolition as anything removing over 50 percent of the value of a structure. Saving one non-conforming wall while rebuilding the entirety of the rest of the structure is not a legal alternative.
What do I need to know about replacing windows in my historic home?
The design, pattern and division of historic windows define the character of a building.
Start by evaluating whether to repair or replace the original windows.
If you choose to replace the windows, carefully review the information provided by the manufacturer. Studies have shown, "that new, high performance windows are by far the most expensive measure, costing at least double that of common retrofit options when considering materials, installation and general construction commonly required for an existing home. In all climate zones analyzed, cellular shades, interior storm panels and various exterior storm window configurations offer a higher average return on investment compared to new, efficient replacement windows." (source)
Replacing windows in the NCOD is subject to a Certificate of Appropriateness.
Where can I find documents about my historical property?
First, check with the Historic Preservation Office in Community Development to find out what research has already been completed. The City has a set of Montana Historical and Architectural Inventory forms for many properties in the core area of town. While the determination of “historic” or “not historic” made in the Inventories is outdated, the Inventory sheets often identify an estimated date of construction and sometimes the original owner.
If a property is identified as historic, and is listed as “contributing” in a National Register Historic District, reading the district’s nomination to the National Register of Historic Places is a great way to understand the neighborhood’s history. These documents can be found on the Historic Preservation page.
The City’s operational archives are another great way to find the name of an original or early property owner. Located in the Stiff Professional Building, the water and sewer connection archives include a card for each property, which lists the date the utility was connected or serviced and the property owner.
Deed research at the Gallatin County Courthouse, on Main Street, can reveal names and important dates in the property’s history. From this information, it’s possible to find information about previous owners in archived newspapers. Obituaries, birth and marriage announcements can reveal fascinating information about people who previously owned the property. The Gallatin History Museum has a paper set of Avant Courier Newspaper archives. The Bozeman Public Library and Renne Library at MSU Bozeman has a microfiche set of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle archives. You can find additional information on property owners at the Bozeman Public Library and Gallatin Valley History Museum in the Polk Directories (phone books).
The Montana Historical Society sponsors free public access to the state’s collection of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. The Sanborn Map Company created to-scale maps of communities after a spurt of growth. The maps were then sold to insurance companies, who would use the information on the maps to determine a rate for fire insurance on a property. The maps are a treasure trove of information for architectural historians. They are available on line at http://sanborn.umi.com The User Name is “Bitterroot” and the password is “welcome.”
For a history of the structure, The City of Bozeman's Building Division retains the Building Permits for properties and the Community Development Planning Division may have a Certificate of Appropriateness application for any modification to a property since 1991. Special Collections at Montana State University also holds an archive of architectural and engineering drawing sets. It is helpful to know who the architect was for the property, as many of the drawings are not indexed by address.
Finally, the Gallatin History Museum, Museum of the Rockies, MSU Bozeman Special Collections, Research Center at the Montana Historical Society and Montana Memory Project are a few resources for historical photos of Bozeman, which may include a specific property.
Other websites such as familysearch.org and ancestry.com may also be useful in finding additional information on previous property owners.
Can a subdivision be changed after it receives approval?
Can a subdivision be changed after it receives preliminary approval?
There are several different elements of a subdivision which may be changed between preliminary and final plat stages.
- An applicant may make minor adjustments to property lines between lots and many other aspects of a subdivision so long as they remain in compliance with development standards and do not change the intent, nature or scope of a subdivision. Subdividers routinely adjust phasing of final plats which is fine so long as the infrastructure is functional and conditions of approval are met.
- A developer may request changes to the approval and associated findings of fact when it can be found that errors or changes beyond the control of the developer have rendered a condition unnecessary, impossible, or illegal. Although rare, this does occur occasionally. The City Commission must approve this request.
- A subdivider may request a change to conditions or to materially alter a preliminary plat at any time through repeating the subdivision process.
- A subdivider may request an extension to the approval period for the subdivision. Extensions must be approved by the City Commission. Both local ordinance and state law limit the duration of a subdivision approval. Once that duration has been exceeded a subdivider must go back through the subdivision review process to renew the approval.
Can a subdivision be changed after it has received final plat approval?
There are many types of exemptions authorized by various sections of the Montana Subdivision and Platting Act (MSPA). Exemptions are set out in Part 2 of the MSPA. An exemption gets its name from the fact that it is exempt from the public review process and criteria of Parts 5 and 6 of the MSPA. The review of an exemption is primarily handled at an administrative level. Some subdivision exemptions are an expedited process which allows small changes to a recorded plat. Subdivision exemptions are primarily regulated under Chapter 18.10 of the municipal code. There is an appeal process should the applicant disagree with an administrative decision. Each exemption has to be evaluated to determine if it is an effort to evade the requirements of the MSPA.
Most exemptions seen in the City of Bozeman are related to the modification of property line locations. These are governed by Section 76-3-207, MCA. Property boundaries can be moved between parcels, can consolidate parcels into bigger lots, and can move boundaries between land within a subdivision and adjacent unplatted property. An exemption cannot alter six (6) or more parcels. Changes affecting six or more parcels require processing as a formal subdivision review. An exemption typically requires preparation of a formal survey and filing of an amended plat with the Gallatin County Clerk and Recorder. An exemption typically takes 2-3 weeks to process.
The owner of subdivided land may make significant changes to any aspect of a subdivision including the lot and street layout, conditions of approval, or other material concerns by repeating the subdivision process for some or all of the property. Large scale changes can have substantial changes to infrastructure which can be costly. Replatting the property requires consent of all of the owners and can therefore be difficult to coordinate, but it is possible.
If an error is found an amended plat may be filed to correct the error. These plats are reviewed as first minor subdivisions which have an expedited review process.
A recorded plat may be vacated by action of the City Commission or the district court.
What are the City limits?
A Map of the City can be found on the City’s GIS page, which indicates the City’s borders. There are some small in-holdings of un-annexed property within the City’s boundaries, which can also be seen on the map.
For information on Annexing a piece of property into the City, please review our Annexation brochure.
What do I need to know about building a fence?
Fences, walls and hedges may be located on lot lines in any district as long as they comply with the following requirements:
- Do not exceed six feet in height in any rear or side yard.
- Fences exceeding six feet in height shall be subject to setback requirements - in which case they may exceed the six foot limit, but not exceed 8 feet. Fences in excess of six feet of height require a building permit before installation begins.
- Do not exceed four feet in height in any front yard or any portion of a corner side yard that is forward of the rear edge of the building facade nearest the corner side yard.
- Decorative post caps may exceed the height limit by no more than one additional foot.
- A gate may be provided, which defines the entrance point. The gate may have a defining structure, so long as the defining structure is not more than one foot wide on either side of the gate. Gate structure heights may not exceed twice the allowed fence height.
- In case of a fence erected on top of a retaining wall, the height shall be measured from the grade of the high side of the wall.
- Finished sides of fences must be exposed to the adjacent property.
- Fences located within the Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District must meet the above standards and be constructed of wood, wrought-iron, or any other non-synthetic material and allow "transparency". No chain link fencing is allowed within the Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District.
- All utility substations, well, storage facilities or other utilities shall be screened from view by a wall, fence, hedge or landscape screen.
What are the guidelines for storage sheds?
Accessory structures less than or equal to 120 square feet in footprint shall not be located in any front, side, or corner-side yard and shall maintain a minimum setback of three feet from the property lines in the rear yard.
Accessory structures greater than 120 square feet but less than or equal to 600 square feet in footprint shall not be located in any front, side, or corner-side yard. The accessory structure shall be set back a minimum of either: six feet, or when parking is provided between the structure and the rear property line, 20 feet except when required parking spaces need a greater setback for back-up maneuverability. See the following examples:
Alley Right-of-Way Width Setback for Garage Setback for a Garage w/
Stacked Parking Off of an Alley
30 feet 6 feet
20 feet 20 feet
6 feet 26 feet 16 feet 10 feet 30 feet 14 feet 12 feet 32 feet
Accessory structures greater than 600 square feet shall not be located in any required front, rear, or side yard and shall provide adequate back-up maneuverability for required parking spaces.
Structures may occupy not more than 20 percent of the area of the lot located to the rear of the principal building.
All structures located within the neighborhood conservation or entryway corridor overlay districts require a certificate of appropriateness unless they are less than 120 square feet as measured from the outer edge of the exterior walls, which meet the setback requirements, are not more than 14 feet to their highest point and which do not require a building permit.
Are Little Free Libraries Permitted?
While ultimately considered a "structure", we do not have a specific name and definition in the Unified Development Code for what the public calls a "Little Free Library" - they are neither a sign nor fence, but some guidelines from the code applies:
- Flagpoles, ornamental features, trees, shrubs, walkways, and nameplate signs may be located within a required yard. Street vision triangle requirements apply.
- They may not exceed four feet in height in any required front yard or any portion of a required corner yard that is forward of the rear edge of the building facade nearest the corner side yard. Decorative post caps may exceed the height limit by no more than one additional foot.
- At the intersection of each driveway or alley with a street, no fence, wall or planting in excess of 30 inches above the street center line grade shall be permitted within a triangular area where corners are defined by two points on the right-of-way line, 15 feet on each side of the centerline of the driveway or alley and a point on centerline ten feet outside the right-of-way. Any driveway or alley wider than 30 feet curb to curb at the right-of-way line shall use the vision triangle standard for local streets when intersecting local, collector, or arterial streets.
- While the structure may be located on the property line, we would generally recommend setting the structure back 3 feet from the property line to safely allow for pedestrian and bicycle activity.
- If an individual suffers injury or damages due to the installation of such a structure on your property, you could be held liable for resulting damages.
- Neighborhood covenants and HOA bylaws may apply. Please consult accordingly.
Always refer to the Unified Development Code before installation of any structure.
Please contact Mitch Werbell at firstname.lastname@example.org with any further questions.
Where can I get more information about my property?
The City provides an Interactive Map which allows you to find your property and to examine many types of information. You can also do research at the Gallatin County Clerk and Recorders office at 411 East Main Street to find documents linked to your title (e.g. restrictions, water rights, mineral rights, easements, agreements, etc.) and a recorded copy of the subdivision that you live in. There are County staff on hand to assist you with this. Copies of the information are available for a fee.
The history of building permits may be found in the Building Division offices, 20 E. Olive Street, 2nd floor. The Department of Community Development has copies of past zoning, subdivision, and annexation approvals. These are not in electronic form.
How do I know what zone I'm in?
You can utilize the Interactive Map on the City’s GIS website or Contact Community Development directly for more information.
How do I know if my home is historic?
The City houses physical records of the properties located within the historic districts. Guidelines for Historic Preservation have been established and are available for you to review if you are interested in developing or renovating within the conservation overlay districts
What flexibility do I have with regards to Land Use?
The City’s regulations are crafted to allow a wide diversity of activities within the City and provide many different land uses and review procedures to meet the needs of a healthy community. The regulations are designed to provide significant flexibility in developing and using property while also providing certainty to applicants and adjacent owners and residents. Many types of projects and land uses can be approved through administrative review.
There are several different mechanisms to propose alternatives or seek exceptions to the standards contained in the Land Use regulations.
The following brochures may be helpful:
How do I know when to submit a development application and what type is needed?
Before development or substantial modification of a site may begin it must be reviewed and approved by the City. Examples of types of proposals which require review and approval are listed as follows:
- Construction, erection, placement, alteration, demolition of moving of any structure, mobile home, or sign – including the painting of a sign on a building, wall or fence.
- Construction, erection, placement, or alteration of any fence, wall or retaining wall.
- Excavating, filling or grading of a site.
- Removal of vegetation adjacent to wetland, rivers or streams.
If you are proposing a substantial project or are not experienced in land development it is recommended that you seek out a professional to assist you.
Generally, the procedures for all applications submitted have four common elements:
- Submittal of an application and required information by an applicant.
- Review of the submittal by appropriate city departments, agencies and/or boards.
- Action to approve; approve with conditions; or deny the application.
- Issuance of permits and/or letter of approval or denial of the application.
Why is Franchise Architecture discouraged in the City?
The Design Objectives Plan discourages the use of franchise architecture. Franchise Architecture is understood to be architecture employing a distinct architectural building style, colors and/or other elements commonly used to promote brand identity. Concerns with franchise architecture include:
- Branded buildings are difficult to reuse if vacated by the primary business, promoting vacancies and blight.
- Large logos and/or proprietary colors used over large expanses of a building.
- Buildings lack architectural elements, materials and design consistent with the local community's architectural composition, character and historic context.
- Architectural variety enriches communities and celebrates the distinctions between different people and places. The quality of the built environment influences the ability to attract and retain businesses, residents and tourists. Increased architectural standardization leads to barren landscapes and communities devoid of authenticity and charm.
- Franchise architecture has the effect of making the entire building into a sign or branded element for a specific business which generates unfair competitive advantage to one business over another and is counter to the purpose and standards of the City's design and sign regulations.
- Franchise architecture commonly uses materials of low quality which quickly show wear and can be difficult to repair well.
- Little variation in building design from site to site reduces sense of place. Carefully conceived variation in building design and the use of quality materials can allow thematic consistency without creating franchise architecture.
Can a Site Development Plan be changed after it is approved?
Yes, there are procedures to allow for changes to any form of zoning approval. In most cases, changes are reviewed and approved administratively.
Do I need a permit to move earth on my site?
There are standards for what amount of site grading can occur without first getting City approval. There are two levels of review for earth work. The simpler process is called a sketch plan. It governs the grading of sites where:
- more than one-eighth of an acre but is less than one-half acre will be disturbed, or
- there will be movement of more than 30 but less than 100 cubic yards of material, or
- the cut or fill of less than one cumulative foot.
If you expect to do any of these three things you need to get a sketch plan approval.
A greater amount of grading requires a site plan to be approved for the earth work. Review for grading can be combined with review for other development elements.
If a site plan is required then some minor work can be done before the City completes its site plan review. However, any major work needs to wait until the site plan has approval. Sometimes necessary changes to the site or the building layout are identified during the site plan or building permit review processes. If you jump ahead, the responsibility to make any corrections will be up to you.
These requirements are necessary for the City to comply with state and federal law regarding control of stormwater and protecting water quality.
Are Medical Marijuana Businesses permitted?
The use or sale of medical marijuana is subject to both state law and local ordinance. Whichever is the most restrictive standard governs. The City has adopted local regulations to minimize conflicts. Establishment of a business requires a Business License, site development approval, and compliance with Zoning Standards.