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Commission tables special assessments

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local Dickinson, 58602
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

Picking up the costs for neighborhood improvements has become a point of contention for some landowners in certain areas throughout the city.

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Some owners and developers have paid for the paving of a street or the addition of a water line. Others have used impact fees to their advantage.

At its regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall, the Dickinson City Commission debated how fairly to special assess impact improvement districts throughout the city.

Because of differences in the way the 2013 Development Impact Fee Projects had been handled, going into Monday evening's hearings, the commission was left to sort out the details of what constitutes fair assessments for landowners, business owners and homeowners.

"On the day of the assessment meetings, the developer asked to be excluded from the assessment district and they were voted to be excluded," said Kevin Brown, a landowner in the area who did not benefit directly from the additional services but is being assessed nonetheless. "I made the same request and lost on a tie vote, two to two. I guess today I'm just here to ask that this be revisited."

The land in question is located in Dickinson's north industrial area, on the Porters Second Subdivision Phase 1 and 2 between 26th Street West and East on the south, with Highway 22 to the West, 34th Street West and East to the north and Fourth Avenue East to the east.

"I just don't know how at a special assessment meeting a developer could double dip and then ask to be excluded," Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns said.

The developer of Porters asked for $600,000 for each phase -- receiving $1.2 million back on $2.7 million worth of work, City Attorney Matt Kolling said. The properties in the area that are not reimbursed by the city pay the cost of the reimbursement.

"It almost feels like triple dipping at that point -- when you exclude yourself from being in specials," Oltmanns said. "The specials are an incentive or a bonus for doing the development."

The commission tabled the decision on the two special assessments until a special meeting on Monday.

Another landowner, Dennis Miller, had paid to have a portion of 22nd Avenue East paved on both sides of the street and still received a bill for $22,000 for the work he had already paid for.

"I already paid my quarter of the project," Miller said. "I just feel that I paid 80-some-thousand dollars on the property already, so should I have to pay another $22,000?"

The assessment on the Keithley and East Dale subdivisions, where Miller's property is located was unanimously approved with exceptions to show that Miller and his partner had paid their share previously by paying for the work.

Six of the eight impact fee projects were approved unanimously by the commission.

In other news:

-- After being denied by the Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission in September, Jared Twogood and his fiancé, Sara Bush, made an appeal to the Dickinson City Commission for a special use permit to run an animal boarding service on land located at 1181 S. Main Avenue that Twogood recently purchased and is zoned general commercial.

Some of the property in the area is commercial and some is residential. The address is in the extraterritorial zone, but outside the official city limits.

The City Commission upheld the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Commission with a three-to-two vote. Commissioner Shirley Dukart and Commission President Dennis Johnson voting for the kennel.

"If you just take a metal building and throw 20 dogs in there and don't do anything with them, you're going to have an issue," Twogood said.

Their plan is to renovate a metal shop, soundproof the building and Bush would be on the grounds the majority of the time, able to clean up messes and address any noise situations.

Many people opposed the kennels because of the worry of noise and smells from barking dogs and unkempt facilities.

"I feel bad that the neighbors are assuming there'll be dogs barking," Dukart said. "I mean, we're not even giving them a chance to prove that it won't happen."

Dukart was the selling agent on the property and her brother was the former owner.

"It's a tough decision to make, but if Jared wants to take the risk, I still would vote for it," Dukart added.

Oltmanns suggested Twogood and Bush make a personal appeal to their neighbors and garner their support, rather than coming to the commission and steamrolling past the neighbors.

"I think you'd get a lot further in the confidence level and maybe their willingness to take the risk on a new business and a young family in their neighborhood because they were each extended that opportunity at one point or another," Oltmanns said. "You're going to have to live there anyway and you're going to have to deal with them."

-- The commission approved the permit to allow the Dickinson Churches United for the Homeless to run its shelter from Nov. 1 to March 31. There was no opposition to the project. It ran in February and March last winter with no major issues.

DCUH are looking for volunteers and applications can be filled out at homelessindickinson.org.

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