Editorial: Dickinson meetings put too many eggs in one basketIf Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission meetings continue as they have, a change is necessary.
If Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission meetings continue as they have, a change is necessary.
During a seven-hour March 21 meeting, commissioners talked about setting a meeting time limit if the gatherings didn’t get shorter. They haven’t gotten any quicker.
Commissioners spent about six hours at their Feb. 15 meeting and the latest meeting, Wednesday, ran from 7 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
This meeting included requests for zoning changes and permits, which meant digging into specifics for a storage facility addition, a mobile home park plan, and creation, and additions to a number of subdivisions.
There are applications, maps and plats to look over and developers, the public and attorneys to talk to.
Planners do, and must continue to, put serious thought behind this serious business.
It’s not hard to imagine rushing through plans after sitting for hours (we all do it). Keeping a mind on tasks while looking over document after document could also lead to underanalyzed information.
Dunn County wisely limits its agenda items to 12 per meeting, though that still could turn into a long day.
Meetings need to be more accommodating to residents too. In the last month there have been requests across southwestern North Dakota for waste oil pits, a proppant plant, railroad facilities, pipelines, and it’s hard to even put a finger on the number of subdivisions, mobile home parks, rezones and requests to park extra RVs on lots.
While many area agendas are organized with the approximate times listed as to when the commissioners will bring each item to the table, keeping on schedule isn’t always possible. Residents and others with interest in the projects have left meetings before their item came up because timelines got off schedule. Thus, they had no input or chance to impact a decision.
Along with the each of these landscape-changing requests come the need for adequate water, electric, green space, roads, dust control, emergency services, garbage pick-up, and on and on.
Serving the community in the capacity of a commission member is not meant to be a full-time position and these people have other careers and obligations to uphold.
Dickinson Administrator Shawn Kessel recently suggested Dickinson commissioners (who get $30 per meeting) are compensated $30 for the first three hours of a meeting and another $30 for anything after that. This should be done and used as an example for other communities across the area.
Working together to find a solution to control the clock is a must in an effort to accommodate not only public officials, but to come to conclusions on what growth is best for this area — a portion of the Great Plains in overdrive when it comes to development.
Publisher Harvey Brock and Editor Jennifer McBride are on The Press Editorial Board.