City Commissioners approve rezone for 12-unit apartment building
City Commissioners unanimously voted to rezone a property for a 12-unit apartment building during their Oct. 17 meeting.
The 0.34-acre property at 2505 8th Ave. N. has been vacant for more than 30 years and was zoned R-3 single family high density.
The property owner, Robert Tacke, requested to rezone the property to C-1 neighborhood commercial.
The city planning board voted 4-0 in August to recommend approval of the rezone.
The neighborhood council also voted unanimously to recommend approval of the project.
Multi-family is not permitted in the R-3 district but it’s allowed by right in the C-1 district, according to city staff.
The applicant is also planning to aggregate two lots for the project, according to the staff report.
Property to the north of the proposed apartment building is zoned I-1 light industrial and property to the east and south are R-3, with property to the west zoned C-1.
“Staff finds the city’s 2013 growth policy update supports the proposed zoning map amendment to facilitate more dense development, particularly to provide needed housing. Specifically, the growth policy lists multiple social policies regarding housing, such as encouraging a variety of housing types and densities so that residents can chose by price or rent, location and place of work,” according to the staff report.
The growth policy also prioritizes infill development, according to staff.
Tyson Kraft, the owner’s representative, said they plan to break ground on the project in the spring.
The Great Falls Development Alliance spoke in favor of the rezone.
Jake Clark said infill projects have available infrastructure, making them more financially feasible for many developers.
He said it also makes use of the “great proactive move that city staff put forward earlier this year” that allow multi-family residential in more zoning districts.
One area property owner spoke in opposition to the project.
Karen Schoonover lives kitty corner from the planning apartment building. She said that she’s been there for more than 40 years and seen increased traffic in the area.
Both 8th Avenue North and 25th Street North are collector streets, which are generally appropriate for higher intensity of use, according to staff.
Mayor Bob Kelly said that the “community is desperate for housing. It’s just a fact.”
He said traffic has increased everywhere in the city and commissioners can use code to manage parking.
Commissioner Susan Wolff said that as they’ve been working on the public safety levy proposal, they’ve been asked many times why they let the city sprawl out so she supported the infill development.
Commissioner Joe McKenney said that the 12-unit apartment building wouldn’t add a significant amount of traffic to the area and “we need housing.”
He said there are also people in town living in single-family homes who want to downside with limited options, so the new apartments might work for them, freeing up some more single-family homes for those looking to buy.
Commissioner Rick Tryon told Schoonover that he heard her concerns but “I don’t think it’s going to be as bad you think it’s going to be.”
He asked her to share feedback with the city once the project is completed on its impact.
Tryon said he was voting in favor because “we have a really intense need for housing in Great Falls right now.”
The city public works and fire department have been involved in reviewing the projects and further coordination will be required for utilities.
Two people spoke in opposition to the project during the Aug. 22 hearing on water pressure and traffic.
City staff said the project would connect to a 12-inch water main in 25th Street and would not affect area water pressure.
Some area property owners emailed staff with concerns about the project after the planning board packet was posted in August.
The concerns include traffic, lack of available street parking and low water pressure.
Staff conducted a traffic analysis using the ITE Trip Generation Manual and found a development of this type would generate an average of 6.74 trips per dwelling unit per day, for a total of 81 trips per day.
During peak hour, 4-6 p.m., the analysis estimates seven vehicles daily.
The development is estimated to account for less than a 2 percent increases in traffic on both 8th Avenue North and 25th Street North at peak hour, according to the traffic analysis.
“Staff finds no additional traffic control would be necessary to accommodate the estimated growth caused by the development of the project,” according to the staff report.
The development will also require a parking lot so staff indicated the project will not impact street parking.
After commissioners voted in September to set the public hearing, a citizen submitted comment asking about issues addressed above as well as safety at the railroad crossing north of the proposed apartment complex on 25th Street North.
“Staff reviewed the location and functionality of the railroad crossing, including its proximity to the proposed development and the safety features in place. Because the railroad crossing has train-activated crossing signal arms, and because of the low generation of vehicle trips by the proposed development, staff determined that the proximity of the development to the railroad crossing would have no negative safety or capacity impacts to 25th Street North. Staff also notified Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad of the proposed project, and received no comments, according to the staff report.