Planners hope tweaking will advance gateway project

City planners liked a concept for a residential and commercial development at the city’s north entrance, but misgivings over parking prompted them to put the project on hold at a meeting Monday.

The Minot Planning Commission was willing to accept the high density proposed by J2 Ventures International of San Diego, Calif., for the five-story building with its 23,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor and 132 residential units above. The number of units exceed the 40 that would be allowed under the existing ordinance’s density restrictions. However, the council is in the process of adopting a new ordinance that would allow 67 units.

The new ordinance also creates a type of planned zoning district that offers more flexibility, enabling the city to accept the higher density in exchange for amenities. The Beacon Addition, located on the southwest corner of North Broadway and the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass West, would offer fitness and business centers for residents among its amenities.

“It’s a project I like,” Commissioner John Zimmerman said. “We also want to think about the gateway to our city, and this is one of them. Having these kinds of buildings or ways to maximize space that could otherwise be used in a less desirable way is something the commission has to consider. These are the sorts of ideas and approaches we need as we fill in parts of the city.”

The project calls for two stories of underground parking and 47 surface parking spaces for a total of at least 318 spaces. The parking proposal is short about 15 spaces from the number required in city ordinance, although developers pointed out that many of the parking spaces would be shared. Residential parking tends to occur at night while retail customer parking occurs during the day. The commission’s concern was that 47 surface spaces, which would be those primarily used by residential guests and retail customers, might not be enough.

The commission rejected a motion to deny the request, preferring to give the developer time to work out the parking details.

“I don’t want it to go away but there are some issues that need to be dealt with,” Commissioner Travis Zablotney said.

In addition to parking, the commission considered potential traffic concerns that could result from development in the area, requiring that a traffic study be conducted and recommendations followed.

The commission could take up the matter again at a special meeting unless the developer offers a parking solution that satisfies the Minot City Council when it meets Monday. The council would have to move the matter out of the planning commission, where it is being held. The developer hopes to get a decision on the project soon so construction can start this year.

In other action, the commission is recommending the council approve the variance needed to allow the Sonic drive-in restaurant to install vehicle canopies at its new location on 35th Avenue Southwest. To better fit the site, the smaller canopies would differ from the traditional, large single canopy used at Sonic restaurants.

A proposal to expand an existing U-Haul site in north Minot by adding warehouses failed a second time to garner commission support. The commission asked the council to reject the request last month, only to have the council send it back for more consideration. The proposed warehouses on 24th Avenue Northwest, just west of Broadway, would hold portable storage containers.

The commission also approved plans for a Town and Country Credit Union facility at 37th Avenue and Fourth Street Southwest.