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Dickinson officials to slow apartment construction

Apartment building in Dickinson may be slowing down.

A development proposal from Utah-based Five Diamond Fund Managers and Raddon Development planned to consist of about 900 apartments, but plans changed after Community Development Director Ed Courton informed Ron Raddon and his team that the city was near capacity with apartments.

Courton said all existing, under construction and planned apartment buildings were considered in the city's decision.

The proposal presented to the Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission for rezoning of the land on Wednesday morning at City Hall included more retail and fewer apartments on land located on the southwest side of Interstate 94 Exit 59 that was once owned by the Stark County Fair Board.

The commission unanimously approved the rezone from community commercial and agriculture to a planned unit development for the area.

"A large commercial development like this isn't hardly any impact at all," Raddon said of city utilities. "You put a subdivision in with 100 houses and 100 dishwashers and clothing machines and showers and everything, that's what impacts the water, the sewer, the storm drain. This project won't do that."

If all plans are approved, dirt would begin moving on the 96-acre project in September.

"They have significantly reduced the number of apartments based on staff's recommendation," Courton said. "I've been working with them to have as much commercial -- to have a uniform building design, a uniform site, a uniform sign code, a unified landscaping plan, similar to what I've done in other communities."

The city has an overabundance of apartment buildings if all planned structures are completed, Courton said.

"By the end of this year, for the allocation based upon current building permits that are submitted, I see that apartments will probably be somewhere around 63 percent, give or take probably 10 percent," Courton said, "but at least a high figure of apartments compared to single family. That's kind of the reverse of what it was last year."

When figuring in planned and under-construction apartments, the city will have many more multi-family units than it calculated in its comprehensive plan, Courton said. He recommends the city halt approval on any more apartment buildings, but review the policy every six months.

"I do feel that under certain instances, even though we went over that number, if it's a very good affordable housing project -- since we need that in our community -- that we should consider those," Courton said. "It's not as if we're going to get a tremendous amount of those, but we should probably factor that in as well."

Because the city is at capacity with infrastructure, it will not try and rush developers to finish multi-family structures but instead allow planned apartment buildings to change into medium- or low-density residential, Courton said.

"I've been concerned for a long time that we're headed to an imbalance with apartments," Commissioner Gene Jackson said. "But we have to remember what rental prices still are today."

There are still people living in hotels and crew camps and renting out rooms or floors in private houses, Commission President Earl Abrahamson said.

"There are a whole lot of rentals that aren't on the books," Abrahamson said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission agreed without a motion that it would halt the approval of high-density residential, but review the policy every six months. Courton will bring the issue to the City Commission.

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.  
(701) 456-1206