Despite protests, city OKs Olive Street SID

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By CULLAN STAACK/Montana State News

The Bozeman City Comission approved the creation of an Olive Street special improvement district of the objections of a pair of homowners.

Kellen Gamradt, a staff and project engineer with the city, says, “The purpose of this SID is to help finance a street reconstruction on East Olive and a portion of South Church Avenue… We received two written protests, representing 3.8 percent of the district, and seven letters of support.”

Gamradt explains in his hearing that the amount of the SID is $140,950, 15 percent of the overall costs of the improvements. The SID revolving fund will finance the project initially, which means a low interest rate for property owners, the elimination of the need for a bond sale, and the fund being paid back over a 20-year period with interest.

Citing an overwhelming amount of support and an insufficient number of written protests, Gamradt and the city commissioners voiced their approval of the project as a necessary infrastructure investment for the city. The motion carried unanimously. More

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City extends vacation rental moratorium

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By EMILY SCHABACKER/Montana State News

Bozeman City Commissioners voted to extend the interim ban that prevents homeowners from renting out rooms or houses for short term stays on Feb. 6. City commissioners agreed to adopt an ordinance that allows a six-month extension to the ban in order to conduct further research on the impact of private home rentals in the community.

Originally, the ban was adopted to remove short term rentals from the three zoning districts for six months so city staff could “investigate, to start conversations with the community, research the best practice and bring the issues back to (the commission),” said Chuck Winn, assistant city manager.

In a 4-1 vote, commissioners agreed to allow a six-month extension to the ban because “this has…turned into a huge opportunity for the community to share with the city and share with each other their passion on this issue,” said Winn.

An extension of the ban would allow city staff to determine appropriate policy questions for the commissioners and put forth a more coherent presentation of the issue before any larger decisions are made, according to Winn. More

County Commission calls for grizzly delisting

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By RANIA AMPNTEL CHAFINT/Montana State News

The Gallatin County Commission announced support to delist grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act during their meeting on Tuesday, after hearing a presentation from HAVEN, a domestic violence victims advocacy group.

The grizzly bear population has grown in recent years to where it no longer needs to be listed as endangered. “The recovery of grizzly bears is a conservation success story that we all really need to proud of,” a representative from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said.

Delisting the animal would allow the states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho to come up with a conservation strategy and implement hunting season regulations to manage the number of bears, according to the representative.

The County Commission agreed to sign a letter of support to delist the animal. “We now have a pretty good understanding of the current population and the sustainability of that population,” one commissioner said. More

Survey: Bozemanites want green transportation

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By SAMANTHA SUNDLY/Montana State News

The Bozeman City Commission heard a special presentation by Jeff Key on the updated city Transportation Master Plan (TMP) on Monday. The new plan was initiated in November 2015, surveying community members on their priorities for the city’s road and bikeways in order to recommend transportation improvements in Bozeman.

Survey results revealed an overwhelming community priority, with 73.3 percent of participants providing a “strongly agree” rating to the sixth TMP goal of environmental sustainability.

Surveys were released Dec. 7, 2015 on a Bozeman Online City Hall forum, eliciting 393 responses on citizen’s priorities for improving Bozeman transportation. The survey questions focused specifically on Bozeman citizens’ agreement or disagreement with the TMP’s seven transportation goals.

According to the Bozeman Transportation Master Plan website, these goals include:

maintaining existing transportation; improving efficiency, performance and connectivity of a balanced transportation system; supporting and promoting coordinated land use and transportation planning efforts; providing a safe and secure transportation system; supporting economic vitality of the community; protecting and enhancing environmental sustainability, providing opportunities for active lifestyles, and conserving natural and cultural resources, and promoting a financially sustainable transportation plan that is actively used to guide the transportation decision making process. More

Tiny houses eyed as solution for homeless

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By BAY STEPHENS/Montana State News

The tiny home movement has been gathering momentum in recent years and now those wrestling with homelessness in Bozeman might ride the wave with the endorsement of The Community Affordable Housing Advisory Board (CAHAB).

“Our mission is to build self-governing community of residence living in single-living community homes,” said Connie Campbell-Pearson, a deacon with St. James Episcopal Church, in a recent presentation to CAHAB. She is heading up the project with the support of her church and, likely, the city at her back.

Half of the homeless population in Bozeman, Campbell-Pearson said, are transitionally homeless, for which the Warming Center works well in providing a safe and warm place to sleep while individuals sort things out. The other half are chronically homeless, living on the streets for one to two years with a risk of death. More

New B.A. in computer science proposed

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By JACKSON NOLDE/Montana State News

The Montana State University Faculty Senate heard a proposal for a new bachelor of arts program in computer science Wednesday.

This program was met with concerns over what would require the capstone to be. Dean John Paxton suggested having students develop a prototype software and do a write-up on how the concentration contributed with the student inviting a B.A. supervisor to attend.

The B.A. in computer science would involve a year of modern language courses followed with more humanity core classes. This could allow a sociologist with a computer science degree to research with Facebook. expanding the job prospects greatly with this proposed major.  More

Panel endorses opposition to elk feeding

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By JORDAN SPARR/Montana State News

The state Senate Fish and Game Commitee last month approved a resolution opposing the Wyoming practice of feeding elk in winter.

Senate Joint Resolution 8 was passed unanimously to formally address Wyoming on the matters of wild elk feeding grounds. Fish Wildlife and Game of Wyoming has been feeding herds of wild elk, which has caused the spread of brucellosis and wasting disease among the 20,000 elk that feed artificially on these public lands.

The joint resolution was made to formally address Wyoming on the matter of spreading these diseases to Montana elk populations. Two major points brought up to push the bill forward were that no other state is currently practicing this method of elk support, and that it is completely unnatural. More

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