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Proposed rezoning put on hold for Meyer development: Dickinson Planning and Zoning approves preliminary plat

A proposed multi-unit housing development met opposition from neighbors Wednesday, despite arguments that the new homes would provide much-needed affordable housing to Dickinson.

Brian Bochman of the Meyer Real Estate Group presented a petition to rezone the 15-acre plot at 10th Street East and Franklin Street to the city's Planning and Zoning Commission, saying Dickinson’s growing population can’t afford the current housing prices pushed higher by the oil boom.

The development “allows us to have housing to offer that’s a little bit less expensive,” Bochman told the Commission. “It will help the housing crunch.”

Despite numerous high-density rental units in the area and several other zones designated for high-density development, there is a lack of affordable housing in the city, Bochman said. Temporary employees and low-wage workers often take to sharing single-family homes, with sometimes as many as five or six residents in one house.  

According to, the average entry-level rent in Dickinson is $1,733 per month, among the highest in the country. On the low end, single-family starter homes can run as much as $300,000, Bochman said after the commission meeting.

“It’s brutal,” he said.

Under the proposal, the plot of land would be rezoned from low-density R1 to medium-density R2 to allow for 30 single-family homes and between 40-45 townhomes. The units would be similar to the Villas at Sundance Cove townhomes, which are also owned by Meyer, Bochman said. Development is set to begin this summer.

Residents on adjacent streets contested the proposal, telling commissioners that the higher-density development would worsen existing traffic congestion in the area.

Pam Reckard and her husband, Ben, live on 12th Avenue, which backs up onto the now-empty lot. She told the commission that traffic sometimes makes crossing over from 10th Avenue and 10th Street East “impossible,” especially without a stoplight.

“Please,” she said. “We ask that no R2 designation is made.”

The commission postponed a vote to rezone the area, pointing to traffic concerns as well as “severe runoff issues in Dickinson,” Chairman Earl Abrahamson said. But members did agree that there is a demand for more affordable housing in the city.

“I don’t know if I’m going to vote for this or not yet,” Commissioner Gene Jackson said, “but we do need R2 housing in this town. We really do need some affordable housing for teachers and policemen, and people who aren’t making $100,000 a year. So I think we need to look at this really hard.”

With the population in Dickinson growing at a rate of about 5 percent a year, overcrowding will be an issue moving forward, Community Development Director Ed Courton said. Ideally, the city would be able to build hundreds, if not thousands, of single-family homes to sell at reasonable rates but, “the economics is just not there, and it won’t be there for several years.”

“And in the interim basis, how do we deal with the population that is ever-increasing?” Courton asked.

The Commission tabled the proposal for a month to allow time to address the concerns raised by neighbors but approved the preliminary plat for the development. Bochman said the move will push back groundbreaking on the new housing units until mid-2015.