BOZEMAN, Mont. – On Monday, neighbors of the planned $7 million Bozeman High School stadium shared their concerns about the project during the weekly city commission meeting.
The Bozeman School District is asking for seven city zoning regulation exemptions that involve the distance of parking spaces from the stadium, the addition of trees within the lot, off- street parking, and drop-off zones for students.
Homeowners near the school are concerned the addition of the new stadium will be a safety hazard for pedestrians as well as increase noise and traffic around in their neighborhoods.
“Adding a stadium to a functional campus would be one thing,” said 11th Street resident Abigail Breuer. “Adding as the fourth piecemeal addition since 2010, when each prior change has had unidentified and unmitigated impacts that have not only turned my once pleasant residential neighborhood into a memory but actually reduced student safety, I think that is unconscionable.”
The complete project will be built over two phases. The first to build the stadium, and the second to add a roundabout on Beall and 15th, totaling over $11 million.
10th Street resident Glenn Monahan stated during the meeting that the school does a great job preparing students academically but it is disregarding other duties.
“However, in my opinion, the school district deserves very low grades in its role as a good neighbor and community member,” said Monahan.
The school district disagrees. Board Chair Andy Willett said schools have exemptions for a reason and the plan presented to the city utilizes the most of tax payer’s dollars while making sure the school is safe and efficient.
“We feel like we do vet these well,” said Willett. “We are looking to try to do the best with that money.”
Deputy Mayor Chris Mehl asked Willett whether or not the school board would consider creating a master plan for the site.
“I cannot speak on behalf of the board,” said Willett.
“But I am asking you to go back and talk to them, I guess,” said Mehl.
“I will talk to them but this is the first I have heard of it. Personally, I would not be personally interested in it,” said Willett.
The city is not allowed to approve or deny the plan because the district is under the jurisdiction of the state. However, Montana State Law requires a public hearing to be scheduled anytime there a site plan is asking for zoning exemptions, which is why there was a forum at this week’s meeting.
City staff did clarify that no other developer would be approved the exemptions that the school district is asking.