Committees adopts plan for more input on zoning ordinance

Proposed new zoning ordinances for the City of Minot could get a more thorough review in the next few weeks through a subcommittee process agreed upon by the Minot Planning Commission Tuesday.

The Minot Planning Commission opted for subcommittees as a means to resolve public concerns about the proposed ordinances without delaying finalization of a new zoning code.

Representatives of building and real estate trades spoke at a planning commission work session Tuesday about what they see as specific problems in the ordinances and about the pace at which the commission is moving on proposed changes.

A common concern was that the commission is moving too fast, although discussion has been going on since October. The commission has held public forums, but many residents have been unaware of the meetings and haven’t seen the draft ordinances.

“There needs to be better communication with the citizens of Minot because this is going to affect everybody in this city,” said Joel Feist, representing the Minot Association of Builders. “If it is not done properly, they are going to have a detrimental effect on the growth of the city. They are going to have a detrimental effect on the tax base of this city. I think it’s extremely important that this is done right.”

Feist asked for a 90-day extension to give his group time to review the 162-page document and make recommendations.

Commission chairman Dave Pankow indicated his desire to move the ordinances in segments to a formal planning commission meeting, where more public input could be taken. The city council also would have two readings. Final approval on second reading would not occur by the council until all segments had passed through first reading.

“What is the rush?” Feist responded. “Why is this planning commission in such a hurry?”

After hearing more concerns about zoning code provisions, Pankow then proposed the subcommittee plan. Commissioners voted 10-0 to adopt the plan in an effort to keep the process moving.

“Time is of the essence at this point,” commissioner Travis Zablotney said. “We are growing at an unprecedented rate. We have more construction and building going on here than we have ever before, and with an outdated set of ordinances, it’s imperative that we get our arms around it so that we are able to live in a community that we are all proud of.”

Pankow said he will confer with the council president and mayor to appoint subcommittees that include representatives of the planning commission, builders, developers, real estate professionals and the general public. Subcommittees will look at the ordinances in segments. Residential, commercial and industrial zoning would be one segment. Other segments would cover topics such as signage, towers, landscaping and parking.

The subcommittees would do their work during March. Meeting notices will be published on the planning section at (www.minotnd.org) and through the media. People who wish to comment on the proposed ordinances but are unable to attend a meeting can send an email to planner@minotnd.org.

A copy of the draft zoning code can be found in the planning department section on (www.minotnd.org) under the “comprehensive plan” heading. The latest draft is the version dated for the Feb. 19 work session.