Gallatin County, Montana Has Growth, But Maintains Rural Character

Sep 11, 2018

Last week's Park City Tour traveled to Bozeman, Montana, which is located in Gallatin's three-member Commission said overall their citizens are concerned about growth, like many other areas. But the unincorporated county still has a lot of rural character.

Commission Chairman Steve White told KPCW that most of their growth occurs within their five cities.

“The county does not provide a water and sewer solution for subdivisions. So if there’s going to be dense subdivisions with multiple parcels per acre the only way you can do it is to probably annex into the city." White continued, "That’s why you’re seeing a lot of the growth and new annexations into Bozeman, and in Belgrade and to a certain degree Manhattan and Three Forks. We as county commissioners end up with less geographic area to even manage.”

A couple of factor put a damper on subdivisions in the county--including the 2008 downturn.

“After the recession we just didn’t have that many subdivisions and we don’t have that many today. There were some changes to the water use act in Helena, through the state legislature." White said, "That has caused for subdivisions outside of incorporated communities, outside of a water sewer district to really have bigger struggles as far as being created.”

White said that agriculture is still going well in the county.

“It’s probably not as many acres that’s being in the ag economy as it was 10, 15, 20 years ago. A big industry for Gallatin County is tourism." White continued, "The farmers and ranchers that are out there are still doing well. They’re not selling off their land rapidly for development. Most of the developments are close to the city so therefore if you have farm ground on the edge of the city sometimes that’s going to be converted into a subdivision. For the dry land farming and irrigated lands that are out away from the cities they’re going just as strong as they were 30 years ago.”