Supports Ruis project
Dear Ms. Nicosia, the City-County Planning Board, and Columbia Falls City Council:
As I will be out-of-town on March 10 and therefore unable to offer verbal comments on Mick Ruis CBD/mixed-use development project I would like to provide them to the Planning Board now via email.
The 2019 edition of the City’s Growth Policy states in part under Commercial Uses: Issues. Too much commercial development still tends to be one block deep and linear in design. Nucleus Avenue is still transitional but recent development offers a more traditional urban core feel and appearance. Goals: Nucleus Avenue should be revitalized to present a more ‘downtown’ focus. Policies: Continue to support revitalization of the CBD drawing upon its historic character with a mix of land uses and mixed/multiple-use projects and concentrate community events and civic functions within CBD. Under the Residential Uses section emphasis is given to a range of housing type options and price ranges.
I interpret these statements to be supportive of the type of development Mr. Ruis is suggesting.
The 2010 Zoning Ordinance as amended identifies in Zone B-4 bulk and density standards appropriate for a Central Business District except building height. Thirty-five feet is way too low for any heavy commercial/CBD type of district. Downtowns need projects with a wide variety of bulk and density dimensions. Market forces and infrastructure capacity are better determinants of building height then some arbitrary maximum building height in a zoning code.
I know many towns, including small towns, that only have a floor area ratio formula with no maximum building height that a vibrant, exciting and very attractive.
I interpret these statements to be supportive of the type of development Mr. Ruis is suggesting and request that a variance of up to 48 or 50 feet be granted so that the project can proceed economically and with strong design features.
Columbia Falls needs a major, signature project to not only strength and help promote the further redevelopment of Nucleus Avenue but also to provide the city and our guests with a strong symbol of progress and economic health and hopefully a source of civic pride. This proposal presents a unique opportunity with many great amenities for a very high profile site.
I encourage the board to not only approve the project as proposed but to accommodate this building height issue so that the project can be the best design possible.