Pocket neighborhood proposed for former Kranz Floral site gets public hearing on Tuesday

A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 3 p.m. on the proposed project that would be Great Falls’ first pocket neighborhood.

The proposed 14-unit neighborhood, dubbed Beargrass Village, would be nestled around a shared green space. Pocket neighborhoods were created by architect Ross Chapin in 1996 and they are “clustered groups of neighboring houses or apartments gathered around a shared open space — a garden courtyard, a pedestrian street, a series of joined backyards, or a reclaimed alley — all of which have a clear sense of territory and shared stewardship. They can be in urban, suburban or rural areas.”

According to Chapin’s site, pocket neighborhoods are smaller, usually about 8-12 homes, versus larger developments.

Beargrass Village is being proposed by NeighborWorks Great Falls for a 1.2 acre parcel on the northwest corner of 3rd Avenue South and 14th Street South. The property was previously occupied by Kranz Floral, which was demolished.

The Planning Advisory Board/Zoning Commission will consider a request for Planned Unit Development zoning and a preliminary plat to turn the existing seven lots into 15.

The property is currently zoned R-3 Single-family high density and is proposed to be rezoned to Planned Unit Development. According to the staff report, the PUD zoning is being requested for “the unique nature of this pocket neighborhood with small lot sizes and shared parking and common space. The PUD will result in a cluster of single-family units all connected by pedestrian walkways and a central courtyard that will provide daily gathering space for residents.”

The proposal includes 10 single family homes and two 2-unit townhomes for a total of 14 residential units.

Notices were published in the Great Falls Tribune on Sept. 24 and The Electric first reported the proposed project on Sept. 6. So far, staff has received two calls from neighbors on the south side of 3rd Avenue South expressing concerns with the potential loss of existing on-street parking and vehicles speeding on 13th Street South.

Beargrass Village gets initial design approval for Great Falls’ first pocket neighborhood

Under city code, a PUD district “is a special type of zoning district that is proposed by the developer to account for a desired mix of uses. Each district is unique and therefore has its own set of development standards which are documented in the approval.”

The Beargrass Village PUD proposes development standards that will be applied to the development as a whole and also describes specific standards per lot. The proposed standards for the overall design requirements include specifications for the landscaping of the site, standards required for the common open space courtyard and incorporating low impact development stormwater features into the site. The per lot standards include specifications that vary from the existing R-3 zoning including a mix of housing types allowed without a Conditional Use Permit, smaller minimum lot size, lot width, depth to width ratio, reduced setbacks, and more intense lot coverage, according to the staff report.

Aug 28 2017 Conceptual Rendering-page-004

The proposal has lots that range in size from 1,856 square feet to 2,681 square feet, with the common lot shown at 19,193 square feet.

Boulevard style sidewalks will be installed along 13th Street South and 3rd Avenue South. The existing curbside sidewalk will remain along 14th Street South. The applicant is also proposing a private sidewalk network to promote a walkable neighborhood and the boulevard along 3rd Avenue South will be restored to grass.

124-apartment complex makes another step toward construction

The traffic impact to the area would be “almost unnoticeable,” according to the staff report. Using the ITE Trip Generation Manual, single family residences can generate, on average, 9.52 trips per unit on a weekday. If all existing seven lots were developed, that would equate to 67 weekday trips, according to the staff report. Under the proposed PUD, there would be 14 dwelling units, but fewer trips are typically generated in a PUD and average 7.5 trips per unit on a weekday totaling about 105 trips, according to staff.

The difference in trips generated under the current zoning and the proposed PUD is 38 trips. “Therefore, the proposed PUD development would have little measurable effect upon the existing street network. Staff also believes that the nature of the proposal’s target market and location near downtown will promote more walking and bicycle trips as opposed to vehicle trips,” according to the staff report.

The Beargrass Village proposal includes 10 garages, one for each single-family home, that will be located on the common lot and the two 2-unit townhomes will have attached garages.

That’s one parking space per dwelling unit, which is down from the normal city code requirement of two per dwelling unit. Staff believes that the nature of the development and the available on-street parking will accommodate the development.

The property owner, NWGF, will be responsible for the installation of all public utilities to serve the proposed subdivision, including water, sanitary sewer, stormwater management and private utilities.

According to staff report, the proposed project incorporates innovative stormwater management into the site design and uses low impact development facilities such as biofiltration swales, bioretention, deep sump inlets, and extended detention ponds. NWGF will develop a stormwater management plan to city standards that will be submitted to the Public Works department for review and approval before building permits will be issued.

NWGF presented the project to Neighborhood Council 9 on Sept. 14 and the council voted to support the development.

The Planning Advisory Board/Zoning Commission meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 3 p.m. The meetings are typically in the Commission Chambers at the Civic Center. All of the boards agenda, packets and minutes are available on the city website.