Planning board to review plan for 432-unit apartment complex

The city planning board will consider an annexation and rezone request for a 432-unit apartment complex during their Oct. 25 meeting.

The planning board makes a recommendation to the City Commission on whether to approve the project.

City staff are recommending approval.

Silver Stone Enterprises submitted a request to annex and assign city zoning to the 15.67 acre property addressed as 3801 2nd Ave. N. located at the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue North and 38th Street North.

The applicant is proposing to build 12 36-unit apartment buildings for a total of 432 units.

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The project is likely to be built in phases beginning in the northwest corner of the subject property, according to the staff report, and full build out could take about five years.

The property proposed for annexation is an unincorporated enclave, meaning it is wholly surrounded by
city limits.Silver Stone Apartments Aug 2022 site plan

A 0.68-acre parcel immediately west of the property is also part of this proposed development project site, but is already within the city limits.

The applicant is proposing reconfigure both of these parcels and is required to apply for and file an amended plat described as a boundary line adjustment.

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The amended plat is reviewed administratively by planning staff and does not require legislative approval.

The applicant is requesting R-6 multifamily high density zoning for the northern two-thirds of the project site and C-1 neighborhood commercial for the southern third of the site.

The project is proposed for a site that is currently vacant with a commercial county zoning.

To the north of the subject property are existing residences within the city in R-6 and R-3 zoning districts. They range from single-family homes to fourplex condos and apartments and existing single-family residences exist to the east in R-3 zoning.

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“The applicant’s request to establish R-6 zoning on the northern two-thirds of the property aligns with neighboring properties developed to the north of the east-west alley that borders the site to north. This zoning designation meets specific goals and objectives within the City of Great Falls 2013 Growth Policy Update, including encouraging a diverse, safe, and affordable supply of housing in the city. This project will substantially expand the supply of apartment residential opportunities and encourages a variety of housing types and densities so that residents can choose by price or rent, location and place of work,” according to the staff report.

The proposed project is on the corner of 38th Street North and 2nd Avenue North, both of which are minor arterial streets, according to staff.

“Generally, intersections of higher classification streets are appropriate for higher intensity of use. In this case, the location of a large apartment complex adjacent to these streets is advantageous to connect these residents to the greater surrounding area,” according to city staff.

The developer will be responsible for extending utility mains and transportation improvements per city requirements and detailed in the improvement agreement between the city and developer.

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The developer requested C-1 zoning on the southern portion of the property to allow multifamily housing, which is consistent with city code, and to provide the applicant another option if he adds commercial development along 2nd Avenue North, according to city staff.

All vehicle traffic will enter and exit the site from access points along 38th Street North across from 3rd Avenue South and from 2nd Avenue North at the existing break in the median, according to staff.

The project will not have vehicle connections to the alley between the proposed apartment complex and the residential properties to the north, according to staff.

On the east side of the project, the developer is required to build and dedicate a right-of-way for a new vehicle turnaround for fire protection and sanitation service connecting 3rd Avenue North and the alley to the south along the eastern property line.

The turnaround will be fenced with no vehicle connection to the development.

“Although vehicular connectivity is often prioritized to incorporate new projects into the existing street network, both staff and the applicant agreed directing traffic from the apartments onto the minor arterials was beneficial to keep the apartment traffic from using local streets as a shortcut, and keep neighborhood traffic from using the apartment as a shortcut,” according to staff.

Staff is also requiring the applicant to build a pedestrian connection to the 40th Street North sidewalk so future apartment residents will have another walking option to access nearby park and school facilities, according to the staff report.

The applicant will also extend public water mains and sewer lines according to city standards and those utilities will be owned and maintained by the city upon completion.

The applicant will also be required to construct or reconstruct curbing, sidewalk and boulevard landscaping along 38th Street North and 2nd Avenue North.

Those improvements will be maintained by the developer.

The developer is required to pay for the projects anticipated traffic impact to the intersection of 38th Street North and 2nd Avenue North, unless the Montana Department of Transportation doesn’t authorize improvements to the intersection, according to staff.

A traffic impact study submitted on behalf of the applicant estimates that new southbound left turns on 38th Street will be approximately 10 percent greater in 2027 than if the project was not constructed, and will cause total left turns to exceed the 100 vehicles per hour threshold where dedicated left turn lanes are recommended by the Federal Highway Administration.

The applicant’s contribution shall not exceed $50,000, which is roughly 10 percent of the current cost of improving
the intersection as estimated by the city’s third party engineering consultant.

MDT is still reviewing the applicant’s traffic impact study and may require other improvements for the proposed project.

Neighborhood Council 4 voted to recommend the project move forward in the city process, but noted they had concerns about traffic on 38th Street North. The condo association chair for the condos on 4th Avenue and 38th Street said at the September council meeting that they were concerned about parking along the alley between the condos and the proposed apartment complex.

The property being considered for annexation and development is a completely surrounded county enclave, and is therefore a very high priority for incorporation into the city,” according to the staff report. “The location of the property along major street arteries makes it more suitable for a higher density development rather than a single-family neighborhood. The property is also known for having fatty clay soils, which makes it more suitable for commercial type building construction. Finally, the city has a documented need for additional housing construction, particularly in a convenient location near Malmstrom Air Force Base. These considerations, plus the willingness of the applicant to assist with mitigating impacts to 38th Street North, should be considered by the planning board.”