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Business development changes discussed in Great Falls

Town hall meeting was held on Wednesday
Posted at 12:46 PM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 14:48:45-05

GREAT FALLS — There may be some changes for new businesses in Great Falls designed to make developing and planning easier, but may also include added fees.

The Great Falls Department of Planning & Community Development has been working to update and streamline the processes for developers and planners to bring business to the Electric City.

At a town hall meeting on Wednesday, speakers discussed the proposed changes that officials hope to implement.

Changes include reducing requirements for landscaping and parking, creating an on-line portal for planning applications, and a proposed increase to fees charged by the city. There are also updated and new "how to" guides for those who want to apply for a planning or development permit but might not have the experience.

Many people at the meeting expressed disappointment in the proposed fee increase, and felt there was an unfair comparison being made between Great Falls and other communities in Montana.

Some people at the meeting were not happy to hear about the fee changes and many complained about the rise in fees over the years and increased demand on developers.

Craig Raymond, director of the Planning & Community Development department, hopes this means a simplification of the process to develop business in Great Falls.

Raymond said the proposed changes are being looked at as a simplification of the process that developers have to go through.

Raymond said, "What we're trying to do is just make the process a whole lot easier and more efficient for the developer, and so anything we do along those lines of course is going to help."

Officials also noted if these fees are implemented, they will be reassessed on a yearly basis to help with development fluctuations.

Barring any major changes to the proposal, they expect these changes to be implemented before the next meeting at the beginning of May, and ask for any feedback from the community before that May meeting. You can call the department at 406-455-8430, or click here to visit the website.