Rezone requested for 14.9 acres on River Drive North

The city planning board unanimously voted to recommend approval of a zoning change for a 14.9 acre property off River Drive North from light industrial and mixed-use transitional to planned unit development.

The property is the former Wausau Building Supply site.

TC Glass and the Great Falls Development Authority have been in discussions with city staff for the last few months about using that property for their business. 

TC Glass currently has a retail location at 1019 8th Ave. N. and a glass production facility outside the city limits at 2300 Vaughn Road.

According to the staff report, the production facility is too small for all of their storage needs causing glass and aluminum frame products to be stored outside under large canopy structures.

The Wausau property at 1300 River Drive N. has an existing 105,000 square foot building that had been vacant for several years.

The property has been listed for sale “for some time, but the large size of the building makes it difficult to be used by a single business,” according to city staff.

TC Glass is looking to use about 50,000 square feet of the existing building to consolidate its sales, office and production operation, but needs the property to be rezoned to share the building with a wider range of industrial tenants to be able to purchase the property.

The 14.9 acres requested to be rezoned is composed of numerous small lots that were originally platted as part of Great Falls 1st Addition. When the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe rail line was constructed through the original platted area and a portion of 13th Street North was vacated, the 14.9 acres was essentially bisected into two land areas, according to city staff.

The western land area contains the former Wausau operation. This portion is roughly 11 acres and is bordered by River Drive to the north, 11th Street to the west, the rail line to the south, and the vacated 13th Street right of way to the east. The remaining 3.9 acres are bordered by 14th Street North to the east, the rail line to the north, and the vacated right of way to the west.

Northern Hydraulics, the other applicant for the rezone request, is looking to purchase the 3.9 acres through either a
boundary line adjustment or future subdivision. They may eventually construct a new building at this location. Northern Hydraulics has a business location in Black Eagle that sells and repairs hydraulic components, according to the staff report.

For the proposed uses for the site, it would normally need to be rezoned to heavy industrial, but “the applicants are sensitive to the concern that other permitted land use activities in the heavy industrial zoning district might raise concerns from surrounding property owners. To alleviate potential concerns, the applicants’ PUD zoning request for the property allows them to submit their own list of permitted land uses and development standards,” according to city staff.

The planned unit development zoning allows the city to specifically prohibit the following land uses that would otherwise be allowed in a heavy industrial district:

  • Fuel Tank Farm
  • Telecommunication facilities
  • Junkyards
  • Motor vehicle graveyards
  • Motor vehicle wrecking facilities

There were no opponents to the rezone request during the meeting.

Brett Doney of the GFDA spoke in favor and said the rezoning will help TC Glass with the financing to purchase the property and be able to get the large property back into use.

The planned unit development zoning “gives the flexibility to protect neighboring properties,” Doney said.

Doney thanked city staff for working with the businesses and GFDA and helping find ways to make the project come together.

The rezoning request next goes to the City Commission for consideration. City staff is recommending approval.