Back to the drawing board for Beacon

The council chambers at Minot City Hall were fairly full at the Planning Commission’s monthly session meeting Monday night, where it examined nine separate applications and also approved two corrections, the latter of which were both to the legal descriptions of the Fillmore North Addition annexation, and The Bluffs 1st and 2nd additions.

Discussion opened with an application by J2 Ventures for a variance for Lot 1 at its proposed Beacon Addition on North Broadway, which would nearly double its allowed density to 132 units while reducing its required parking by 19 percent, to 340 spaces and 48 spots for motorcycles. Shaped like an “L” on a triangular parcel of land, the four-storied Beacon project had been revised to reflect a traffic study conducted by the state’s Department of Transportation.

The additional units were proposed in order to offset the expected $6 million cost of building two levels of underground parking, which the developers said would be necessary to best accommodate the odd shape of the land.

Despite these changes, planning staff recommended denial of the variance and discussion by the commission raised concerns that such a high density project in a yet-to-be-developed part of the city would eventually put a strain on its infrastructure, particularly in the areas of sewage and water usage. While generally agreeing that the project was a beautiful one, the commissioners elected to deny the application on these grounds.

In other items, after some persuasion representatives of the Central Power and Verendrye electric cooperatives won commissioners’ consent both to subdivide the proposed Bolton Heights 9th Addition at the corner of 19th Avenue NW and 30th Street NW into two lots, and to allow a distribution substation at one of these. Despite initial concerns over the facility’s aesthetic effects on the neighborhood, confirmation of the company’s plan to shield the substation from view with a wall of pine trees as well as the operational need for the station in light of expected energy demand were convincing.

The application by The Nanny Daycare for interim use permission to expand its roster from an allowed 18 children to 24 just passed with six votes to five, partially on the strength of a perceived need for day care services in the community as well as the oversight the business receives from Ward County Social Services. The decision will be revisited in two years from yesterday’s date.

An application by Little Flower Church for a parking variance from its 141 required spaces to 74 was approved, with the recommendation that the church acquire a more formal agreement with Minot State University to use its available parking spaces on weekends. The property is at present considered legally nonconforming, as it lacks the parking spot per three seats required by for zone R3B, medium-residential properties.

A pair of minor variances at 901-13th Ave. SE and 1920-12th St. NW were approved after some discussion, as was an application by Enerbase to annex into the city limits an M1 light-industrial property at County Road 10A, east of North Main Street. An application for a conditional use permit for renting out the basement of a single-family occupancy zoned dwelling was not so fortunate, while an application by Bechtold Paving for a special use permit to place up to 15 campers for seasonal workers was also rejected.

Decisions made at the planning meeting will be brought up again for final consideration at the Minot City Council’s meeting on Sept. 3. The commission’s next meeting will be held on Sept. 30.