What is the UDC?

    The UDC, or Unified Development Code, sets forth regulations around what kinds of development can occur in which areas through development standards, zoning districts, and subdivision rules. 

    The ongoing project to update the UDC is an effort to implement the vision and goals established in Bozeman's guiding documents, such as the 2020 Community Plan, the Climate Action Plan, and strategic priorities like affordable housing. We are working to amend the development rules and regulations so that the built environment in Bozeman better reflects our Commission-adopted goals and desired outcomes.

    What can (and can't) the UDC regulate?

    The UDC doesn't control everything. Key aspects of UDC-based regulations include zoning (which regulates things like building height, shape and size, transitions, parking requirements, and land uses), the subdivision of land, the building permitting process, and certain aspects of the public realm, like new sidewalks. 

    The UDC does not set City policy, nor does it control tax revenues or City expenditures. The UDC also does not regulate things in the Building Code (like fire safety standards and insulation requirements), transportation planning, or items governed by state and federal law (such as protected wetlands or certain utility standards). The UDC cannot force a person to sell or redevelop their property, and it cannot simply require a developer to build affordable housing (per Montana Code Annotated Sec. 76-2-302).

    Where does the UDC apply?

    The Unified Development Code only applies within the limits of Bozeman and has no authority outside of the city limits. Bozeman occupies a smaller space than many expect. This map shows the City limits shaded in blue. Areas outside of Bozeman are regulated by Gallatin County or other municipalities. 

    Will there be future updates to the UDC?

    Yes. The current update project is targeted on specific focus areas. The City regularly updates the UDC as laws change, policies are revised, and plans are adopted.

    What is the Community Plan?

    The 2020 Community Plan was adopted by the City Commission and serves as the fundamental policy document guiding further growth and community development in Bozeman. It was adopted after a thorough public engagement process and meets the requirements of Section 76-1-601 of the Montana Code Annotated. The City has had five community plans dating back to 1958, the most recent previous one being the 2009 plan.

    What is Zoning?

    Zoning includes the regulations which govern the built form and the private use of land in Bozeman. These regulations utilize zoning districts which are drawn onto a zoning map. Each district has its own allocated physical and land use-related rules. Zoning authority is granted to cities and incorporated towns by the Montana Code Annotated, Sec. 76-2-301.

    Are there other planning and regulatory updates underway?

    Yes. The City is currently developing water conservation regulations that will move forward to public review in early 2024. The City also recently accepted the Sensitive Lands Protection Plan for the broader Gallatin Valley with various public and private partners (at the 12/19/2023 City Commission meeting), and adopted the Parks, Recreation, and Active Transportation master plan update at the 9/12/2023 City Commission meeting. 

    Is there any location in Bozeman where R-MH is zoned/allowed?

    Yes. The Residential Manufactured Home district (R-MH) is allowed anywhere that the Urban Neighborhood future land use designation applies. A large portion of the city allows the R-MH. Currently there is approximately 123 acres of land zoned R-MH. 

    Find a side-by-side comparison of existing and proposed zoning districts on the city website. 

    What keeps 4 stories from being super tall (like >>50ft in height?)

    The building standards for each zoning district establish the minimum and maximum story height for both residential and commercial use.  For example, Sec. 38.220.020.B (page 2-21), B-1 Lot Standards shows a maximum story height of 4 stories. Subsection 4, Floor Height, lists the story height for residential and commercial activity. Adding these up shows that a 100% residential building maximum height would be 63’. 

    For any subdivisions, when/where is the cut-off for vesting to current vs new UDC codes?

    The State says an application is “vested” when the review body (City of Bozeman) grants adequacy. Adequacy means the review body has all the necessary components and those components have sufficient information to determine that the details of the application meet all applicable City standards and rules. The determination of adequacy is made by all city departments the application may impact such as Engineering, Planning, Sustainability, Parks, Stormwater, Transportation, Forestry, Water Conservation, and others. 

    Although the schedule may change, we are expecting the new code to be adopted on December 19, 2023 and be in effect on January 18, 2024. Therefore, any subdivision granted adequacy before January 18, 2024 would be reviewed under the code we use today. Anything after that date would be reviewed under the new code. 

    Can you speak to when zoning transitions apply? Common lot lines? Alley?

    Table 38.260.070-1 on page 2-95 lists all the required transitions. Transitions apply to side and rear lot lines, but are not required when the adjacent property has the same zoning as the lot to be developed. Transitions are also not required when there is a street between two different zoning districts. If an alley separates two zones requiring a transition, the transition will be reduced.  

    If a subdivision got approved for Preliminary Plat, and then UDC gets passed, then can the Final Plat be under NEW UDC, or vests back to City Code from Application Complete, for example?

    “Vesting” is granted at the time of the City determining adequacy. State law dictates the review process and the local authority cannot require additional conditions of approval or change the requirements needed to gain final plat approval. Thus the final plat must follow the same version of code the preliminary plat did. However, there is a difference between subdivision and site development. If a subdivision is approved under the current code and a lot within the subdivision submits a Site Plan application after the adoption of the new code then the site must adhere to the standards of the new code. 

    You mention building heights etc., and I am seeing several different terms such as wall plate height, story height. Will these definitions be clarified?

    Note: This part of the code was an area of significant interest in public comment received to date. Changes related to this part of the draft code may result from upcoming engagement efforts.

    Yes. Generally definitions and rules of interpretation will help explain terms used in the document. Wall plate is described in sec. 38.260.100.B on page 2-108. Story height is detailed in multiple locations including in each zoning districts building standards and in sec. 38.260.130.A and B. 

    Example of the REMU District – 38.220.070.A60.B.4, excerpt of dimensional standards below. (page 2-31) 

    • Maximum of 5 stories 

    • First floor is 15 feet 

    • Upper floor height of 15 feet 

    • Maximum of 75 feet 

    If a site has easements within the frontage area that prohibits the percentage of built frontage listed for in the District Standard, B-2 for example, can relief be provided or clarified in the final code?

    If we understand the question correctly, relief would not be necessary. However, to accurately answer this question we may need more specifics. We believe this situation is when there is an easement greater than 20’ wide between the primary and/or secondary street that would push the building beyond the maximum setback line allowed by subsection 5 – Setbacks. The frontage would still apply and would not allow parking or drive aisle to be placed between the street and the building. 

    Do you have consulting provisions for those boundaries between city and county property?

    Yes. The City and County actively coordinate development between the jurisdictions and provide comments on proposed development. 

    How will historic district standards and NCOD standards be applied even though increased density will be permitted in some residential districts?

    There is no change in how the standards of the NCOD or historic districts are applied to an application.  These standards are renumbered from 38.340 in today's code to 38.240 in this draft.  

    Starting this fall the City will undertake a project to evaluate and revise the historic preservation program and policies. This includes rewriting Division 38.240, revising the Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District, and creating a local landmark program.  

    How are residential zoning districts being consolidated?

    Note: This part of the code was an area of significant interest in public comment received to date. Changes related to this part of the draft code may result from upcoming engagement efforts.

    Find the side-by-side comparison of the current zoning districts and proposed zoning districts on the city website

    Current Zone(s) 
    Proposed zone 
    R-1, R-2, R-3 

    Will Short Term Rental regulations change if residential zoning districts are changing?

    The City is undertaking possible changes to the Short-Term Rental (STR) regulations through a separate initiative this fall, as requested by City CommissionCity staff and Commissioners will consider and harmonize the outcome of the two projects (STRs and UDC) where they overlap. Please stay tuned for upcoming public hearings on the STR amendments. As always, public comments on any topic may be sent to agenda@bozeman.net. 

    If we have more questions- who do we ask?

    Please drop your questions in the "Questions?" board. Scroll down and click the "Questions?" tab next to the "Project Updates" tab on the left side of this page. 

    What other code updates are in process or being planned for the future?

    Changes to regulations related to short-term rentals were adopted by the City Commission in the fall of 2023, and will be incorporated into the new draft code. Other code changes in process include updates to water conservation and wetlands protection rules, with those revisions anticipated to be adopted in early 2024.

    Since the UDC project was delayed in the fall, what is the anticipated timeline for the review and adoption of the new code?

    Based on results from the recent engagement survey, City staff will prepare anew engagement plan, which will inform another round of outreach activities early in2024. After this outreach takes place, staff and consultants will work on revising the current draft code, and will present an updated draft to the public, City boards, and the City Commission in the spring. After the updated draft is released, public hearings are anticipated to resume in the spring of 2024, with final hearings and a vote on adoption possible mid-year.

    Is the City going to start over on the UDC rewrite, or continue with the current draft of the code?

    We have received lots of valuable feedback so far from the community to develop the draft code. Much of the feedback, comments and concerns have been focused on a few specific elements of the code, as opposed to the entire draft document. We will continue to work with this draft and want to hear additional feedback on it from those who may not have had a chance to engage. After conducting another round of engagement in early 2024, we will use all of this feedback in revising the current draft, and hope to present an updated draft ahead of the new hearing process later in 2024.

    Why doesn’t the UDC include provisions to require affordable housing in new developments?

    Montana state law prohibits municipal governments from requiring affordable housing (aka “inclusionary zoning” requirements). However, voluntary programs to incentivize affordable housing development through bonuses are allowed, and both the current code and draft new UDC include affordable housing incentives which developers can choose to use. These incentives work alongside other city, state and federal tools, including tax credits and other sources of funding to enable the creation of affordable housing.

    How will the new code regulate fraternities and sororities?

    The new code proposes to treat fraternities and sororities just like any other group living situation, including allowing them wherever group living is allowed in proposed new zones.  A recent district court ruling said that the City did not provide adequate notice to the public of similar changes when it updated the UDC in 2018.  The City has appealed that ruling to the Montana Supreme Court.  Through the adoption of this new code, the City will provide ample public notice of the change.  The City encourages your feedback on this proposed edit.

    Is the draft prohibiting construction of single detached homes or preventing subdivision for new single home lots?

    No, Section 38.300.020 shows that single dwellings are principal uses in all residential districts.

    What types of housing are being built in Bozeman now?

    A wide range of housing types are being constructed including single homes, “missing middle” homes, and apartments. See the following data from the Bozeman 2023 Economic and Market Update, Oct 2023 prepared for the Economic Development Department by Economic & Planning Systems Inc. All of these types of homes may be constructed under the draft regulations as well.

    *2023 figures include first half of the year only.


    What is the Gallatin Valley Sensitive Lands Protection Plan?

    The Gallatin Valley Sensitive Lands Protection Plan is an ongoing planning effort in the Bozeman area which will create recommendations for new policy and programs, regulatory tools, funding sources, legislative initiatives, and partnerships related to wildlife and environmental protection throughout Gallatin Valley. This effort include multiple groups and jurisdictions, including the City of Bozeman, and is a separate process from the development code update. 

    To learn more about the Sensitive Lands Protection Plan, visit the project site here.