Council approves construction start on airport terminal


Staff Writer

Ground breaking for a new commercial terminal at Minot International Airport could occur in mid-September.

The Minot City Council on Tuesday accepted the $40.7 million bid of Graham Construction Services of Eagan, Minn. The city issued a temporary notice to proceed, which allows the contractor to break ground, mobilize equipment and put in underground utilities and foundations.

The trigger that gave the council the go ahead to accept bids was the award of a $6.56 million federal grant at the end of August, said airport director Andrew Solsvig.

The grant includes $5 million in discretionary funding, as well as more than $1.56 million in primary entitlement funding. In addition, the airport has been awarded $18.5 million from the State of North Dakota in oil impact dollars for airports.

Solsvig said the city is awaiting word, expected by the end of the month, on an additional $3 million in federal discretionary funds needed to complete the project funding.

If those federal funds become available, the city would issue a full order to proceed with construction. If the federal money doesn’t materialize, Solsvig said, the city will pursue other funding sources to complete the project.

The local share, consisting of about 25 percent of the entire project cost, will be funded through revenue bonds to be paid off through airport income.

The goal is to finish the new terminal by the fall of 2015.

Solsvig said the initial construction shouldn’t affect the public using the existing terminal or airport parking.

“We believe we can get through this winter season without any real issues,” he said.

In other business, the council disregarded the recommendation of the Minot Planning Commission in voting 8 to 6 to allow Katelin David to rent the basement of her single-family home in the valley in southwest Minot. Neighbors opposed to multi-family housing in their neighborhood objected to the city issuing the permit, which expires if David should no longer own the home. David said her intent is to create affordable housing for a second resident while offsetting her cost of flood-recovery and other debts.

On another zoning issue, the council sided with the planning commission in rejecting a mixed-use complex on North Broadway near the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass. High density proved to be a sticking point. The council, on a 4-to-10 vote, killed The Beacon, a project that included 132 residential units above 23,000 square feet of retail space on three acres.

In adopting a new zoning ordinance earlier this year, the city became more lenient regarding density, but still, The Beacon exceeded the units allowed per acre by 97 percent.

“I love the project,” Dave Pankow, planning commission chairman, told the council. “It’s a nice looking project coming into the city, but when we allow these huge variances in density, what we are going to do is set that precedent.”

Council member Scott Knudsvig, who had served on a committee to draft a city comprehensive plan, noted the project doesn’t fit with that plan.

“It’s like we are throwing away the years of work we have just put into all this for good planning and good growth and good development,” he said.

The Beacon project included a variety of residential amenities and underground parking. A luxury apartment complex, some of the units were to be set aside at lower rents for critical support workers, such as emergency personnel or teachers.

Voting for the project were Blake Krabseth, Mark Jantzer, Bob Miller and Kevin Connole. Voting against were Larry Frey, Dean Franstzvog, Jim Hatlelid, George Withus, Dave Lehner, Tom Seymour, Milt Miller, Amy Moen, Lisa Olson and Knudsvig.