Commission gives mixed response to zoning conflicts

A proposed service center and shelter for homeless people failed to gain support of the Minot Planning Commission or neighbors at a meeting Monday.

However, a controversial apartment complex and gravel-crushing operation did win commission approval.

The Welcome Table, an umbrella group of social service organizations, sought a zone change in an industrial district in southeast Minot to build a soup kitchen, food pantry and free clinic and eventually a homeless shelter.

“We have been searching for the past three years to find space in Minot,” said Willy Soderholm, vice president for The Welcome Table. “It’s either so far out of our price range or it’s ‘not in my backyard.'”

The proposed location on Fourth Avenue Southeast is part of Magic City Industrial Park. Representatives of several companies operating in the park said the proposed shelter would not be appropriate. Their operations involve heavy truck traffic that would pose safety hazards for the shelter.

“We would like to see a place like that. We just don’t want to see it down in the industrial park,” said Bruce Beeter of Beeter Trucking.

Commissioners shared the concern about location, voting to recommend the Minot City Council deny the zone change from industrial to general mixed use.

The commission voted 9-1 to recommend approval of a zone change and variance to allow an apartment complex in southeast Minot despite protest from some neighbors.

Future Builders submitted a plan for four townhouse units and two three-story apartment buildings, for a total of 61 units in the development. The property is located on the southwest corner of 16th Avenue Southeast at 13th Street.

The developer revised a proposal presented in May that redesigned the layout to be less obtrusive to most of the neighbors.

“We have done everything we feel we can do,” said company spokesman Willy Fielhaber. “We have worked with everybody and heard every concern.”

Still, some neighbors preferred what they said was an earlier plan that ran townhouses along the avenue and buffered their homes from apartments. They also favored reducing the apartment buildings to two stories.

They cited traffic congestion, over-crowding at Washington Elementary School, disruption of privacy and incompatibility with the existing neighborhood among their objections.

Residents living southeast of Minot near a proposed gravel crushing operation were even more adamantly opposed to the project in their neighborhood.

Sundre Sand & Gravel requested a temporary permit to crush and screen aggregates on property west of 72nd Street Southeast and north of 37th Avenue Southeast, along 20th Avenue.

Company spokesman Dennis Nussbaum said the operation will eliminate up to 7,000 truck trips to deliver aggregate to the 55th Crossing development under construction.

“We are just trying to make it safer and easier and make it easier on the roads by doing this,” he said. Currently, gravel is being hauled from near Velva, about 22 miles away.

The proposed work area is located 700 feet from the nearest residence and would have a berm and trees around it. Residents felt that is too close, creating hazards from dust and to curious children.

Crushing operations would be restricted to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and overall operations to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. over eight weeks. Crushing would be restricted during times of high winds from the east that could blow dust toward residences.

Neighbor Tamie Dunn questioned why the commission would support the incompatible use after turning down The Welcome Table.

“You don’t want to put sleeping areas in industrial. Why would you want to put industrial in sleeping areas?” she said. “Sundre has run a great, reputable business in Minot. It’s just not one we want in our backyards.”

Commissioner Travis Zablotney said crushing on site and getting trucks off the road is the better option.

“It will be short term pain. There’s no question. But in the greater good, it’s the appropriate thing to do. It makes sense,” he said.

The commission voted 9-1 to recommend the council grant the permit.