City Commission approves annexation, zoning for proposed 48-unit apartment complex on Skyline Drive and 6th Street Northwest

City Commissions unanimously approved the annexation of 2.15 acres on the corner of Skyline Drive Northwest and 6th Street Northwest and to assign R-6 multi-family high density zoning.

The property owner is planning to build four three-story 12-plex for a total of 48 residential units on a 2.15 acre parcel.

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

Most of the neighborhood concern related to the project was related to traffic. City staff did a traffic analysis finding that the existing street network has sufficient capacity to handle the traffic generated by the proposed apartment complex.

6th Street Northwest 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.

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

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.

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.

48-unit apartment complex proposed for Skyline Drive

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

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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.

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.

During the Dec. 1 meeting, City Commissioner Owen Robinson asked how the county sections of 6th Street could be brought into the city.

Craig Raymond, city planning director, said that the city could do a joint project with the county, “which I don’t necessarily suspect is the most likely scenario.” Or the city could proactively seek to annex the remaining rights of way in the county so that the road up to Skyline Drive is solely under the city’s jurisdiction, which could happen when the additional rights of way are purchased prior to construction to improve the road.

Raymond said that the action taken by commissioners on Dec. 1 was to annex and zone the property, but no permits have yet been filed for construction on the site. Those specific site plan and construction details are still being finalized.

Brett Doney of the Great Falls Development Authority said they are supportive of the proposed apartments and encouraged approval of the annexation and zoning.

He said that his agency is working to increase earnings for residents, while trying to keep housing prices in check, which requires adding housing stock.

No one spoke in opposition during the meeting.