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Grand Forks to give Dickinson a helping hand with building applications

Citizens waiting for construction plans to be approved in Dickinson may not have to wait as long as they have been if a pending agreement between the city and Grand Forks is approved by each city's attorney.

The agreement calls for Grand Forks to provide a helping hand in reviewing applications for commercial buildings and other large structures in Dickinson, easing up some of the stress on the city's Planning and Zoning Department. The Dickinson department will still handle single-family dwellings and multi-units of three or less.

"I think the process will work out well," City Planner Ed Courton said during Monday's City Commission meeting at City Hall.

The Planning and Zoning Department is a week or two behind on residential approvals, he said. It takes three to four weeks to approve commercial buildings.

The department hopes to be able to turn around residential applications in about a week, allowing for faster build times, Courton said.

The agreement came about after the Bakken Gold Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck this spring, Grand Forks City Engineer Allen Grasser said.

"We understand that the western communities are struggling to hire and maintain staff and are pretty much overwhelmed with the workload," he said.

The work will not bring the Grand Forks staff to Dickinson, and the Grand Forks work will be a priority to the Grand Forks crew, Grasser said.

Grand Forks will be billing Dickinson $60 per hour for commercial plan review and $30 per hour for administrative support, according to the agreement.

The contract will be a benefit for both cities, Grasser said.

"It helps get some plans done for Dickinson and, quite frankly, on the Grand Forks side it helps give us some training to some additional people that may be able to back-fill for us, too, somedays."

The formal agreement establishes roles and responsibilities between the two cities, City Attorney Matt Kolling said.

Dickinson has sent plans to Grand Forks on a trial basis, Courton said. Those plans were sent two weeks ago and final comments are expected soon.

The document was approved pending legal consent in case there are any small changes, City Administrator Shawn Kessel said.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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