Walgreen’s On The Way

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Good news: the City Commission voted unanimously to approve the zoning changes required to allow Walgreen’s to build a store at the intersection of 10th Avenue South and 23rd Street. Concerns about increased traffic and property values for residents on 9th Avenue were addressed, which appears to have helped persuade the Commission. Kudos to Aaron and GeeGuy for attending the meeting and voicing their support for the new project, and of course to the City Commission and Mayor Dona. Now let’s see if we can get the Wal-Mart project greenlighted…



  1. David, as I posted on Aaron’s blog, that was a tough decision to make, in light of the neighborhood’s opposition. I have received a couple of nasty phone calls and emails, but I know we made the right decision. I believe that Walgreen’s will be a good neighbor, and will increase property values, rather than diminish them. The redevelopment will certainly be better than what is sitting there now.
    It is so important for Great Falls to welcome business with open arms and not just retail, but primary sector businesses as well. I am still smarting over the loss of OSI and 100 well-paying jobs. The State dropped the ball on that one. I am committed to making sure that we don’t lose another one like that!
    When it comes to WalMart or any other retailer, the Mayor and Commission don’t have a huge amount of “say.” While we are active in recruiting primary sector businesses and working with the Great Falls Development Authority, new retailers coming in are determined by other factors, such as land owners having available land, this being the “right” market for their products, and so on.
    At any rate, I support growth in Great Falls, and will make my decisions based upon what I believe is good for the entire community. Let me know what you all think.

  2. I think you made the correct decision. Our Planning Board has been sending the wrong message lately. As I said last night, the idea that people who want to spend money to improve our community should have to come to us with hat in hand is, frankly, embarassing.

  3. Dona, I bet there are a least 1000 silent citizens happy with the outcome for every 1 upset neighbor. That’s the problem with issues like this, only the inflamed show up to voice their opinion and the rest of us read about it in the paper puzzled by some of the outcomes. Anyone who has ever bought a home knows that the value of 9th Ave homes already has proximity to 10th Ave figured into the price. As I’ve said before, this same zoning change should be applied all the way down tenth. Surprisingly, after hearing Stuart Lewin speak at the meeting, I was forced to agree that all 9th Ave lots (including existing) should have some kind of visual buffer similar to the rear fence or landscaping of Walgreens.

    City staff is not very aggressive about making existing properties upgrade when businesses change over and apply for new permits. If there is some undue hard ship on a particular landowner they can apply for a variance, but if the landscaping is easily added we should reasonably steer all properties to come in line with existing code. On your next drive down 10th look at all the differing amounts of landscaping. This would not trouble me as much if this was due to old businesses being grandfathered in. Many of the businesses with no/little landscaping are less than 10 years old while some 20+ year old businesses complied from day one. This would make more of a difference than the silly “one size fits all” sign code changes we recently passed to improve the look of the city.

    One thing about the outcome that I was a little troubled by though was that most of the required landscaping was put towards the back of the lot to placate the adjoining property owners. This rear buffer cost 10th Ave an amount of aesthetic appeal which was to be one of the upsides of the redevelopment of the block. It seems that when negotiating zoning changes like this the mitigation offered to improve the backside property owners view should not come at a cost to the front side view. Any thing behind the fence should not be included in the 20% landscaping requirement.
    Just a thought.

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