City approved zoning amendment for apartments near Hickory Swing golf course

City Commissioners approved an amendment to a Planned Unit Development zoning for a 36-unit apartment complex on a 2.267 acre parcel located on the south side of American Avenue, between Hickory Swing Golf Course and Emerald Drive.

The original PUD only allowed for a retirement community on the lot, so the developers, T&M Properties and Development LLC, needed an amendment to allow for the three 12-unit apartment buildings and an access drive.

36-unit apartment complex proposed for American Avenue, near Hickory Swings Golf Course

The Planning Advisory Board voted in May to recommend that the commission approved the amendment.

The neighboring homeowner’s association sent a letter and spoke at both meetings in opposition to the project over concerns related to traffic and crowding.

Patty Jo Sheldon of the Emerald Green condo association asked the commission to deny the amendment. She said there is already a lot of traffic on American Avenue on Thursdays due to the golf league at Hickory Swings.

“I’m not against development. It could be smaller,” she said. She said in a letter to the city that the condo association would prefer single family homes or condos to promote home ownership.

Commissioner Owen Robinson said that often new development is on the edges of the city, straining city resources.

He said this type of development was beneficial since it’s already within the city and already served by public safety resources and can connect to existing infrastructure.

The developer is planning to use development standards from the R-6 multi-family high density zoning district including residential density, minimum lot size and lot size proportions for newly created lots. The proposed PUD standards would allow for a higher maximum height and larger square footage for garages, as well as a smaller rear yard building setback.

The applicant is proposing access off American Avenue, but Great Falls Fire Rescue requested an additional point of access and the applicant has provided a secondary emergency access from the golf course drive that will include a knockdown emergency gate.

The property is within the Neighborhood Council 2 area and the council voted in favor of the project in September 2017 and again in May.