Supports Ruis project

| February 26, 2020 8:31 AM

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.

Patrick Malone

Columbia Falls