City considering rezoning, subdivision for Touro medical school

The city planning board will consider a minor subdivision and rezoning request for the Touro College Montana project south of Benefis Health System.

Touro chose the Great Falls location last year after working with Benefis officials for most of the year and broke ground in October.

Apartment complex planned for site next to new medical school

The city planning office issues a building permit in November and the medical college is under construction.

Touro is planning to subdivide about 19.33 acres into three separate lots.

The first is the lot where the school is being built and is proposed to be 5.12 acres.

That lot includes landscaping, parking and stormwater ponds, according to city planning staff.

Touro breaks ground on proposed Great Falls medical school

The second lot would be 12.21 acres for a separate private developer to construct eight apartment buildings of 36-units each for a total of 288 housing units, according to city planning.

The third lot would be 2 acres for the proposed Montana State University nursing school.

Benefis is donating the land for the nursing school to be built with a portion of a $101 million donation by Mark and Robyn Jones to MSU.

Groundbreaking set for new medical school in Great Falls

The Benefis land gift is contingent upon the successful subdivision of the land, which will also require City Commission approval. The gift must also be approved by the Montana Board of Regents of the Montana University System, according to Benefis.

The property is currently zoning as Public Lands and Institutional, which allows for an educational facility and would permit the medical college and nursing school.

Influx of medical school students could overwhelm Montana resources, program leaders warn

If Touro had opted to build dorms specifically for the medical students, the rezone wouldn’t be required, but since they instead decided to have a private developer construct apartments, the rezone is required, according to staff.

Neighboring property is zoned as M-1 Mixed Use and that zoning district would allow for the apartment complex and Touro is requesting that the property be rezoned to M-1.

The property is a subsequent minor subdivision, meaning the property had previously been subdivided.

Benefis working to bring medical school to Great Falls

A minor subdivision doesn’t typically require a public hearing, but when a subsequent minor subdivision is requested, a public hearing must be held in front of the planning board/zoning commission, according to city planning.

Because the subdivision request is paired with a zoning change request, both will also have a public hearing at a future commission meeting, according to staff.

Part of the subdivision will include a 20-foot trail easement which will be shown on the final plat running east-west from the northeast corner to the northwest corner of the subject property. The developers of the apartment complex have agreed to install a paved trail in this location that will  will connect to an existing trail to the east of 29th Street South, according to staff.

The new trail will expand the existing trail system in the city and bring it closer to connecting Russell Park to Sand Hills Park, according to staff.

Staff is recommending approval of the subdivision and rezone requests.

The proposed uses for the land will increase traffic to the area, but staff found that the existing road network is adequate to handle that increase, according to the staff report.