Annexation for proposed 48-unit apartment complex on Dec. 1 City Commission agenda

A proposed apartment complex for the corner of Skyline Drive Northwest and 6th Street Northwest is on the Dec. 1 agenda for City Commissioners to consider annexation and zoning.

The proposed Skyline Heights would include four three-story 12-plex for a total of 48 residential units on a 2.15 acre parcel.

City Commission to set public hearing on proposed apartment complex on Skyline Drive and 6th Street NW

The project includes an off-street parking lot with 72 parking spaces and two driveway approaches to Skyline Drive N.W.. The project is expected to be built in phases over multiple years.

The city planning board voted in October to recommended approval of the project.

Staff is recommending approval of the annexation and zoning.

The cost of connection from city water and sewer lines to the development would be borne by the applicant under the agreed upon terms of the improvement agreement. Roadway improvements to Skyline Drive Northwest will also be funded by the applicant. Once those improvements are constructed, they will be dedicated to and maintained by the city. 

Great Falls Fire Rescue and Great Falls Police Department would serve the new development and staff wrote that, “the City Commission should consider the impact that expansion of the city limits has on the ability to provide key emergency services at an acceptable level.”

Josh Johns, the developer, said during the October planning board meeting, that the rents for the complex would range from $850 to $1,200.

City planning board OKs annexation, zoning for 48-unit apartment complex on Skyline Drive

Existing single-family homes within the city are located to the east and a city-owned water distribution facility is located to the south, according to the city staff report.

A large tract of land to the north is currently used for agricultural purposes but is anticipated for future annexation and development, according to the city.

48-unit apartment complex proposed for Skyline Drive

The Neighborhood Council and area residents identified traffic as a concern with the project and asked the city to prioritize improving 6th Street Northwest before approving the project.

North Great Falls transportation study underway

That street is classified as a collector street in the city’s transportation network and has long been identified as a substandard roadway that needs to be brought to urban standards.

Andrew Finch, the city’s transportation planner, said during the October planning board meeting that the roadway was designed to rural county standards. Improving the roadway from Smelter to 36th is included in the city’s long range transportation plans and was identified in the 2018 update to the plan as a future project with an estimated $9.6 million price tag.

Finch said that improving the roadway wouldn’t add capacity or add lanes, but would improve the roadway itself, add storm drains and sidewalks.

City Commission to consider $140,795 contract for storm water management plan

Lonnie Hill, the city planner on the project, said in October that the developer will be required to finance improvements to 6th Street along his property but the city is proposing to delay that until future development occurs since the reconstruction of 6th would be a much larger project. The developer will be required to improve Skyline Drive in front of his property.

Hill said that there are challenges with improving 6th Street Northwest including the scale and cost, but also that portions of the roadway are still in the county, grades of utility depths vary and that the width of rights of way vary along the road.

“It’s a pretty major project,” Hill said.

Hill said the proposed apartment complex would help move the 6th Street improvement project closer to reality in terms of some funding, getting more right of way and improvements to Skyline.

The developer will also extend a 16-inch public water main through the public right-of-way of Skyline Drive NW from the existing 16-inch main to the east and run to the western boundary of the subject property. The improvement is to be owned and maintained by the city upon completion. The city pays the costs associated with upsizing the water main.

The developer will also install a public sanitary sewer main that will extend the existing eight-inch main located near the southeast corner of the city water plant. The line shall run north to the right-of-way of Skyline Drive NW and run west to the western boundary of the apartment property. The improvement is to be owned and maintained by the city upon completion.