Council approves daycare in northwest Minot

A developer looking to build an educational child-care center in northwest Minot received the approval of the Minot City Council Monday.

KJK-Corcoran School Holding Co. of Williston wants to build a 240-child daycare just off 21st Avenue Northwest, east of 21st Street. Most of the property is agricultural, with a portion zoned single family, and it will be rezoned under a new designation known as general mixed use.

The company proposes to build a nearly 33,000-square-foot child-care facility, similar to one being operated in Williston, and to eventually add potential development such as assisted living, offices, retail and living lofts.

The child-care center raised an objection from neighbor James Hamilton.

“I know that daycare is needed in this town, but I do know they need to find a better place,” he said, citing the impact of noise and lighting on the nearby residences.

“My backyard privacy will be gone,” he said. “This is a residential neighborhood high-end homes. Let’s not destroy it.”

“We are committed to this community. We are committed to being good neighbors,” said T.J. Corcoran, founder of the Corcoran School. “We are planning to be here long-term. In that regard, we are willing to do whatever it takes to be good neighbors.”

He said the plan is for residential lighting and a buffer that exceeds city requirements.

“People move away because they can’t find child care for families that are growing. Our program is really state of the art. We run it like an elementary school,” he said.

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.

Child-care centers typically are located in residential areas, Corcoran added.

“Statistically, it helps property values. Having this in the area will help the neighborhood, not hurt it,” he said.

Council member Bob Miller said child care is needed for Minot to continue to grow.

“We all have to accommodate change, but if we say no to some of these things, there are no longer going to be applications for this. They just aren’t going to try anymore,” he said. “We really need to make this happen for the young people of our community.”

The council approved the project 11-0.

In other business, the council approved interest buydown of $55,000 on a state Flex Pace program loan from the MAGIC Fund to Gohl Properties. The buydown is part of a financing package for a shop and office facility that is under construction next to the base.

Russell Gohl and his company, Earthmovers, received the 50-year privatization contract for the Minot AFB water and wastewater systems. Earthmovers, owned by Gohl Properties, changes its name to Base Utilities, Inc., on March 1.

The company has hired 14 employees and expects to hire four or five more.

The council also heard concerns of contractors related to higher building costs in a code revision approved Monday.

Council member Kevin Connole said contractors say Minot’s fees are getting too high. The code provides for a $70 an hour cost for city reviews of building plans to ensure building code compliance, which comes on top of the normal building permit fees.

Contractor Al Schall said it is difficult to estimate costs for a customer with an hourly fee that can vary.

Minot building inspector Mitch Flanagan said the typical review for a large project would be four to eight hours, and his office would be able to provide a good estimate on those costs. He added with the new fees, Minot’s costs to builders are average compared to other cities in the state.