Commission debates siting of new daycare

A developer’s plan to build a child-care center and an assisted living center near a northwest neighborhood drew objections from residents and earned only narrow support from the Minot Planning Commission Monday.

The proposed 240-child daycare, which is the initial aspect of the project, split the commission not on its merits but on whether the location just off 21st Avenue Northwest, east of 21st Street, near Cognizant, is the right place for it.

James Hamilton, who lives on 21st Avenue, argued that the location is not right.

“This is going to greatly increase traffic in our area,” he said, noting that noise and lighting also would be disruptive. “When we bought our property, we were looking for a quiet area.”

Most of the property proposed for rezoning is now largely agricultural, with a portion zoned single family. It is situated between one-acre single-family housing on the west and multi-family housing on the east. The request from KJK-Corcoran School Holding Co. of Williston is to rezone the property and also change the medium-density designation on the city’s Future Land Use map to a new type of zoning called general mixed use.

The company proposes to build a nearly 33,000-square-foot child-care facility. It has operated a similar school in Williston about two years, and the planning commission received a letter of support for the company from Williston’s economic development corporation.

The Williston center has classrooms dedicated to specific functions, such as art, music, library and iMac lab. Children learn to use computers and tablets and study foreign and sign languages. The school also brings in guest instructors in areas such as dance, tumbling and karate.

The Minot facility would be separated from the nearby residential area with trees and other natural buffer and would be served by 20th Avenue Northwest, which the developer would have to construct through that area.

Mike Stamness, a resident on 21st Avenue, voiced concern about noise and traffic but also questioned what might end up in a general mixed use zone if the child-care center ever went away.

General mixed use is defined in the city ordinance as a means to provide for a blend of cultural, recreational, retail and office uses along key community corridors, with residential also encouraged. Stores cannot be more than 15,000 square feet in size. Child-care centers are permitted. Schools and group homes also are allowed in single-family residential zones.

“We do need to embrace thoughtful development, especially that brings the services that the city needs,” commissioner John Zimmerman said. “I think that this is a compelling, transitional development for this neighborhood, and a very important service that’s going to come just in the way of the daycare.”

“We do have a need for daycare, and it is a good project,” commissioner Travis Zablotney said. “But it’s our job to make sure it fits in the location it’s being planned.”

He suggested the commission study the situation further before supporting any rezoning.

Commissioner Brenden Howe voiced concern about the traffic volume along 21st Avenue, near the busy intersection with 16th Street.

“Are we creating big bottlenecks around what could be a big intersection for us?” he asked.

The commission voted 5-4 to approve rezoning, which now goes to the Minot City Council for action on Monday.

The commission also is recommending approval for:

– A variance to a rear yard setback to convert the former Northwest Music building on North Broadway into a Taco John’s.

– A zone change for Fillmore Real Estate Partners of Minot for a retail strip center at 16th Street and 30th Avenue Northwest that would include retail, offices and convenience store, and possibly a brew pub.

The commission is recommending denial of a variance request from Jerome Lundeen to allow for a public street to separate a parking area from a proposed barbecue restaurant at the corner of U.S. Highway 2 & 52 Bypass and Evergreen Avenue Southwest.