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Bozeman Caps Size of Retail Stores

| Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Apr 1, 2003 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

In February, the city of Bozeman, Montana, enacted an ordinance limiting retail stores to no more than 75,000 square feet. The measure makes permanent a temporary moratorium on construction of large retail stores in place for the past year.

The ordinance was approved by a 3-2 vote of the City Commission and took effect on March 21. It notes that “large-scale retail development imposes additional costs on public facilities and services” and “is potentially inconsistent with the existing community character and future community objectives.” The measure’s goals include ensuring “that development of additional areas does not degrade the Historic Core of Bozeman” and fostering “a diverse economy that will protect the economic climate for existing businesses.”

In addition to capping the size of new stores, the ordinance requires retail developments between 40,000 and 75,000 square feet to meet design and site development standards. The ordinance notes that abandoned big box structures are of significant concern and requires developers to submit plans for re-using structures should the original tenant leave. It also mandates that developers include specific design elements when constructing large stores to facilitate re-use by multiple tenants (e.g., provision for interior subdivisions and multiple entryways).

The city plans to conduct a long-term study of the economic and community impacts of large-scale stores (those over 40,000 square feet) and to review and update the ordinance in five years.


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About Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and directs its Community-Scaled Economy Initiative, which produces research and analysis, and partners with a range of allies to design and implement policies that curb economic consolidation and strengthen community-rooted enterprise.  She is the author of Big-Box Swindle and also produces a popular monthly newsletter, the Hometown Advantage Bulletin.  Connect with her on twitter and catch her TEDx Talk: Why We Can’t Shop Our Way to a Better Economy. More

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