Design Review Board approves Great Falls High plan; stop work order lifted
The stop work order has been lifted at Great Falls High School as of Tuesday afternoon.
“We think the issues have been resolved,” said Tom Micuda, deputy city planning director.
The stop work order was issued on June 12 when contractors for Great Falls Public Schools closed a city street, removed three boulevard trees and began demolition of a city sidewalk. All of that action happened before the city had issued any permits or been made aware of the plans.
GFPS has since submitted the required dust control and storm water management plan.
Micuda said the city and GFPS reached resolution on the tree removal in the boulevard, where trees are managed by the city and removal requires approval from the city forester.
Micuda said GFPS will remove 13 trees from the boulevard and 16 will be planted, but they’re still working on tree issues at the Great Falls High site. Resolution of those issues was included as a condition of the city’s Design Review Board approval Monday afternoon.
Some of the boulevard trees are being removed to make room for a bus drop off area, Jana Cooper said during the meeting. Cooper is a landscape architect with TD&H on the project.
Some other trees were removed to make room for the city required emergency access, Cooper said, but the design team realigned that access road to save a few more trees.
DRB members asked for some additional consideration related to exterior designs of the addition such as breaking up a long exterior corridor wall and possibly adding more detail to some of the building’s entrances.
Under city code, the district would be required to have 574 parking spaces at GFH. There are currently 418 and the proposed plan calls for 424, according to plans presented at the DRB meeting.
Craig Raymond, city planning director, has said that so long as there’s not a reduction in parking spaces, he’ll allow the code deviation.
City staff recommended that the DRB approve the plans since they were “largely consistent” with city code.
Dani Grebe, DRB chair, “this isn’t all finalized,” she asked. She said it felt too early to vote if the plans were changing
Micuda said the plans aren’t finalized, but since tree related issues were included as a condition of approval, staff felt that the basic openings, forms and materials wouldn’t change much outside minor modifications.
Any issues with building design can be resolved before the city issues building permits, Micuda said.
The project went to the city-county Historic Preservation Advisory Commission in several meetings and the architects said during Monday’s DRB meeting that they had incorporated some of their comments into the updated designs.
Other conditions of approval added by the DRB include considering options for east and west connectivity, working with public works on the storm water and sidewalk plans and retaining as many mature trees as possible.