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Dickinson zoning board gives OK to city for 221-lot subdivision preliminary plat

Resident concerns and park board conflicts didn't keep the Dickinson Planning and Zoning Board on Wednesday from recommending to the City Commission, by a vote of 6-2, a preliminary plan for a 221-lot subdivision in east Dickinson.

Creekside, a subdivision that is approximately 109 acres, would be located about 500 feet east of the intersection of 10th Street and 10th Avenue East, which is south of Interstate 94 and west of 25th Avenue East.

The developers have to address a few issues before the Planning and Zoning Board will consider the planned unit development.

If approved in March, the final plat could go before City Commission for approval in May.

The development is proposed to include meandering roads, sidewalks, open space and a trail system with connection to the community and a loop around the creek, the main feature of the development.

At the zoning board's monthly meeting at city hall Wednesday, Randy Jenniges, engineer with Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. in Minnesota who represented the developer, Meyer Real Estate Group, said the idea behind the development is to reduce the number of street intersections, thus reducing pavement and maintenance and increasing green space.

"In this type of development, when you're driving down the street, you get to see a lot more of the homes, instead of just the garages," he said. "You get a lot more features inside the homes and the window accesses lot different so you're not looking at your neighbor's house."

To provide for more green space, Jenniges said the developer would have to shorten the city's standard street widths from 40 feet to 32 feet, except for 18th Avenue, which would be 38-feet wide.

"The goal of a project like this is to have people to park on their driveways, as opposed to the streets," he said. "That's why we push the houses back further and people have longer driveways. The concept is to get the green space out front."

City attorney Matthew Kolling said the commission would not be setting precedent if it approved the diversion from typical standards, but instead, allowing for special circumstances for one developer. Thus, allowing the commission to reject similar requests in the future.

Resident Pam Rackerd, who lives on 12th Avenue East, asked during the public hearing that the developer be required to create a barrier to keep the dust down, should the project move forward.

Matt Krebs, who lives at 1123 19th St. E., expressed a wish for the space be established as a park.

"This is about the last chance we have (for a park in the neighborhood)," he said. "I am in favor of a park, and I'm sure much of the neighborhood would be, versus having to travel a mile to get to a park. As far as traffic, there is going to be increased traffic out there. "

Commission Jay Elkin expressed concern about the narrowed streets and how that would impact emergency services, even if parking is only allowed on one side of the street, as the developer has proposed.

"I like the concept," Elkin said. "The fact of the matter is there is a concern that if there is illegal parking and people are parked on both sides of the streets, now emergency services are down to 16 feet (wide streets)."

Fire chief Robert Sivak said he has met with Brian Bochman, vice president of Meyer Real Estate Group, and expressed his concerns about what happens if parking occurs on both sides on the street, despite it not being allowed.

"The adopted city fire code requires for fire department access that we have 20-feet unobstructed under all conditions, and that's our concern," Sivak said. "In a development like this, my concern would be in normal snow events, as windrow builds up is there going to be a point where it is recognized that the windrow is encroaching on access and needs to be removed? I don't have a good answer for you."

Commissioner Gene Jackson said he was not in favor of the narrower street widths.

"I know it's been done in a lot of other places and I'm not saying it can't be done," he said. "I just don't think it is right for us. We don't live in a place, in a metropolitan area, where land is such a commodity."

Commissioner Scott Kovash, who is also on the city park board, said the development plans have not come before the park board, which was considering land in the north end of the development for a park.

"Personally, a preliminary plat is a little premature right now," he said. "I would have to vote no at this point. For people on the east side of 10th Avenue, they would have to cross 10th Avenue, which is not the most desirable road to cross at this point."

Jackson said he thinks the development would make "an attractive subdivisions for the community."

"I think it will add a lot to our community and it is housing that we need and I would like to see this project move forward," he said. "Having said that, this project has some rather complex engineering issues. I think there needs to some things in the development agreement that doesn't give the developer quite the guarantees simply because this is going to take time."