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Report predicts continued growth for Gallatin County

By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Anchor, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com
Published On: May 09 2013 06:43:12 PM MDT
Updated On: May 09 2013 06:48:24 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Some people say Bozeman feels like a small town more than a city.

"I like being able to just walk around town and run into people that you know," said Bozeman resident Rian Zetzer.

Despite that feel, Bozeman was ranked the second fastest growing city in the state. And Gallatin County -- the fastest growing county by a landslide.

According to the last census, Gallatin County has grown by more than 30 percent in 10 years. And we've seen that impact.

"Traffic -- there's a lot more. Just people everywhere," Zetzer said.

The Department of Commerce released a report predicting that growth could slow, but not by much.

Over the next 25 years, the report states the area will grow by nearly 30 percent, and break the 100,000 population mark.

In just under 50 years, that number will be over 55 percent. Gallatin County could be close to 150,000 people.

"The width of Main Street is not going to get any wider Downtown," said Bozeman Policy and Planning Manager Chris Saunders. "It is what it is, and we will need to find ways of accommodating that."

He said in some ways Bozeman is maxed out. But they've got plans in place for the city to hold up to 90,000 people.

"We have a pretty good idea of what it would take to provide services through a large portion of the valley floor," Saunders said.

As far as schools, the district said county population numbers don't predict how many kids will go to Bozeman schools.

"It's hard for us to know until the kids are actually here and attending school and in our system," said Superintendent Rob Watson.

He said that's why they plan more for the immediate future, and only project about 10 years out.

When we talked to locals, one main concern we heard -- "I definitely don't want it to be cosmopolitan," said Zetzer.

Others like Zetzer said they hope Bozeman keeps its small-town feel.

"I just hope Bozeman continues to hold onto that charm that I've grown to love," said Bozeman resident Nicole Baker.

Lifelong resident Carl Lehrkind agrees. "As long as it retains its marvelous feeling and great place to live, I think it's the growth is wonderful."

Right now, Gallatin County's population is at 93,785 people. The report predicts we'll break 100,000 in 2017.