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Larger lot sizes in Dickinson recommended in rural land

Residents would need larger lots for residential and agriculture use in Dickinson if an idea brought up by City Planner Ed Courton at Wednesday's city Planning and Zoning Commission meeting would go into effect.

Courton proposed that rural residential land not within the urban services area be required to have a minimum of 5 or 10 acres instead of the current 1-acre minimum, and that the agricultural land minimum be increased from 10 acres to 40 acres.

No action could be taken on the proposal since four of the eight commissioners were present and there was no quorum for the meeting at Dickinson City Hall.

"As we are going through our comprehensive plan, as the planning commission members are aware, we've been addressing the issues of land uses and lot sizes, and we're coming to a very critical juncture," said Courton, who commented that he has dealt with land use conflicts between neighbors and suggested that larger lot sizes would make for a better distinction of land use.

"The question arises, under our current code, if you are outside of our city limits, you are allowed, in rural residential, to potentially own minimum lot sizes of 1 acre," Courton said. "The ag is at 5 acres. When you look at the current or existing and historic land use patterns in the county, outside of the city limits, you're looking at big lots. I think we need to be aware of that and try to preserve that quality.

"When people move out into the county, people want to have bigger lots instead of having the continuation of what I call sprawl, in which you have more urban-related rural land uses."

The community outside of city limits is a nice agricultural, rural setting that should be preserved, he said.

Commissioner Scott Kovash said that increasing the 5-acre minimum for agricultural is best.

"A lot of it is the cost factor," he said. "I think ag going from 5 acres to 40 acres is good. It sounds like a lot, but with ag you cannot do much with 5 acres."

Courton said that a proposal for land zoned agricultural would not be guaranteed approval just because it met the minimum requirement.

"It would depend on where it was at," Courton said. "We base our decisions on the surrounding land uses, utilities and the rest."