Subdivision growth worries Stark County officials: Dickinson leaders eyeing population trendsSouthwest North Dakota communities continue to grow as more and more oil is pumped from the land beneath them, but officials worried about unchecked growth are moving forward with caution.
By: Betsy Simon, The Dickinson Press
Southwest North Dakota communities continue to grow as more and more oil is pumped from the land beneath them, but officials worried about unchecked growth are moving forward with caution.
In particular, Stark County officials have refrained from approving new subdivisions until the more than 100 already in the county are at least 65 percent full.
“We’re in a good position now and we don’t have any vacant subdivisions,” said Jay Elkin, Stark County commissioner. “We have denied some subdivisions for various reasons, but one of our greatest concerns is that we want to allow those developers to develop the subdivisions that have already been approved before we allow for new growth.”
Released earlier this year, a North Dakota State University projected employment study for Dickinson suggested that the city needs a variety of permanent and temporary housing options in order to prevent high vacancy rates and a depressed housing market in the future.
Dickinson City Administrator Shawn Kessel said the city has started down the path to balancing present and future housing needs by looking at the population trends and housing figures.
“One thing is for sure, you can never make predictions absolutely accurate, so we hope to undershoot more than overshoot with the goal to avoid negative outcomes later,” he said. “One of the big things is making sure that we have temporary housing to serve temporary workers, so we try to utilize things like crew camps and mobile housing to serve temporary needs and not have permanent structures left behind when those workers leave.”
Developers of a proposed housing development in Gladstone have taken the suggestion into consideration, said Roger Glessner with Inland Northwest Consultants.
Glessner spoke at a public meeting Wednesday and said the homes in the proposed development, which would include residential and multi-family housing, would be constructed based on what the market demands so that there would be no overbuilding.
The fear of overbuilding may be unnecessary, though, because it will take longer than people think, said Joe Frenzel, broker at Everett Real Estate Inc. in Dickinson.
“I’m actually not terribly concerned because we’re looking at this boom lasting at least 20 years, so we’re not expecting it to go away soon,” he said.
Frenzel said construction in the Dickinson area, especially the development of apartment buildings, will help to provide buyers with more choices and allow for more competition in the market, which should help to keep prices more reasonable.
“I don’t think that we could really build so fast that we get ahead of ourselves,” he said. “When this all does finally shake out, I just don’t foresee a disaster unless the price of oil takes a huge drop, but I don’t think that will happen either.”