Planners put hold on Wal-Mart request

A plan for a Wal-Mart Supercenter in north Minot left the Minot Planning Commission with too many unresolved issues Monday to push the project toward a quick ground-breaking.

The commission voted to hold the zoning request and plan review to allow staff more time to visit with Wal-Mart representatives on a variety of concerns.

The commission did recommend that the Minot City Council approve a permit for Home Depot to operate a temporary area for sales to contractors on South Broadway, where it plans to construct a store this year. The projected opening date is Jan. 1, 2014. The property is located just north of the Minot Chrysler Center. The temporary sales would start by May 1 if approved by the council.

The Wal-Mart property is located just east of the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass, on the south side of 21st Avenue Northwest. It is somewhat farther east of the intersection of 21st and the bypass than a previous plan, which presented some dilemma for the city.

The city has a policy requiring dedication of property for interchange when the property is platted at intersections of the bypass and major arterial streets. The property owner who is selling to Wal-Mart will be retaining the piece of property next to the bypass and leaving it unplatted for now. The city does not want to miss an opportunity to get the land dedicated for the interchange, which city staff has indicated will be needed eventually.

Wal-Mart proposes a special assessment district be created to widen 21st Avenue and install traffic signals at the Walmart entrance and at the intersection of 21st and the bypass. Wal-Mart also proposes a significant landscaped buffer between the store and area residential developments.

Area residents voiced concern about having a Walmart store as a neighbor because of the increased traffic that could end up on their residential streets and the potential for transients to camp out in the parking lot.

“It’s too much in a residential area. It’s too big a retail store in a residential area,” said neighbor Mark Brown.

“We need it. There’s not a lot on North Hill,” commissioner Travis Zablotney said of the Walmart. “What happens is it is in somebody’s backyard and nobody wants in in the backyard. All we can do is make a decision that’s best for the community and try to protect those who are impacted the most.”

For that reason, he moved to hold the request for a month so staff could work with Wal-Mart officials on the details. He also urged the company to revise the architectural design to come closer to the look of a new store in Fargo, which he indicated is more aesthetic.

The new Walmart will include grocery and garden departments and a tire and express lube. It is projected to create 250 to 300 jobs.