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Belfield rezone approved for teacher housing

BELFIELD -- Belfield's Planning and Zoning Board approved a request by the city school district to rezone a portion of city-owned land from commercial to residential for the purpose of placing mobile homes to be used for teacher housing.

Superintendent Darrel Remington approached Belfield City Council on Monday about amending the zoning ordinance and allowing the school to use the property.

He said the school district is having difficulty finding teachers to fill vacancies that the district currently has because the applicants cannot find affordable housing anywhere in the area.

The City Council's recommendation this week was to lease the school district lots 6 through 12. They also recommended offering the district the option to use lots 4 and 5, if it decides later that the additional space is necessary for teacher housing purposes.

The council recommended the city and school district agree to a five-year lease.

It was also recommended that the council give the school district the option to renew the lease if the school district finds itself in need of the additional space to house their newly employed teachers.

Per the agreement with the City Council, the school district will be responsible for expenses, like cost of utilities.

School board member Tony Krebs, who represented the board at Thursday's zoning meeting, said the 16-foot-by-80-foot mobile homes will be beneficial to the school district.

"We can't find teachers," Krebs reiterated to the zoning board. "The city has been very, very helpful with these lots. It will provide our new teachers with affordable housing."

There is also a stipulation in the agreement that if the school district, at any time, decides that it no longer needs the space for teacher housing, the property will be automatically rezoned for commercial use as it was previously zoned for.