Commission rejects bypass location for fuel station

Constructing a gas station in the path of a potential, future bypass or interchange isn’t good planning, the Minot Planning Commission determined Monday.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend the Minot City Council deny a request from Cass Oil Co./Holiday Stationstores for a subdivision and street vacation in Sorenson’s Addition, located on the south end of the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass at the intersection with U.S. Highway 2 & 52. The company proposed a street vacation to combine six lots and create a single two-acre lot for a Holiday gas station and convenience store. The area is zoned for commercial, although it is developed mostly with single-family homes.

Four homes would be acquired for the project. The company tried to acquire additional single-family properties that are not part of the proposed development but was not able to persuade owners to sell, according to information provided by the city planning department. The result will be existing single-family residences remaining on either side of the gas station.

Residents whose neighborhood would be drastically changed by the project development shared concerns about safety at the intersection, emergency access, snow removal and storage, water runoff and potential for conflicts if a future southwest bypass is built through that area.

Residents argued that the neighborhood located just outside city limits, with 18 homes and two commercial operations, has been largely unchanged for more than 40 years. The company’s proposal to install 10 pumping stations, servicing up to 20 vehicles at a time, is a large endeavor for such a small area, resident Shawn Grosz said.

“There are many areas in Minot designated for growth with proper infrastructure,” he said, suggesting the company look elsewhere.

The proposal, with city staff recommendations, would have required upgrading 15th Avenue and 31st Street in the immediate area to urban road standards. There was no plan to hook up to the city sewer system, which city engineer Lance Meyer could only be done with the completion of a $4 million trunk system that’s on the drawing board to serve other Minot growth, plus lift stations.

The city is expected to get its first look later this fall at a transportation study that could give some indication of whether a southwest bypass is desirable. Even if desirable, it could be several years or more before funding is available, Meyer said.

A future interchange at Highway 83 and U.S. 2 & 52 would require significant right of way. The cost of buying out Sorenson’s Addition already is a concern, and a gas station would make it even more costly, Meyer said. On the other hand, the city doesn’t want to interfere with commercial development if an interchange isn’t in the long-range plan, he said.

“We are caught in this sort of limbo until we get some of these other studies done,” Meyer said.

Commissioner Travis Zablotney said jumping ahead of the transportation study would be a bad move for the commission.

Council member Blake Krabseth also told the commission that Sorenson Addition isn’t a good area for residences or businesses. With the pressure increasing on the Highway 83 Bypass, changes at the intersection with U.S. 2 & 52 are inevitable, he said.

“The timeline will happen sooner than later,” he said.

In other business, the commission supported a zone change request from Beyond Shelter and Minot Housing Authority to construct 40-unit senior housing at 1810-2nd St. SE. Construction on Cook’s Court would start in the fall of 2014, with completion in the fall of 2015.

The complex would provide one- and two-bedroom units for low-income seniors with amenities including laundry, community room, exercise room and library/computer room. The housing authority would participate in owning and managing the complex.