City views West Dickinson draft plan

Even with the capacity to accommodate 10,800 residents, the proposed 6,100-acre West Dickinson Area development still wouldn't meet the needs of projected population growth figures, city officials say.

Even with the capacity to accommodate 10,800 residents, the proposed 6,100-acre West Dickinson Area development still wouldn’t meet the needs of projected population growth figures, city officials say.


At a joint meeting with the Dickinson Planning and Zoning and City Commission Monday to review what Community Development Director Ed Courton called a "rough, rough draft" of KLJ’s land use plan, commissioners questioned how to best develop the area to handle anywhere from an estimated 12,000 to 20,000 new residents within the next few years.


A recent study from KLJ predicts Dickinson will need an additional 9,500 housing units by 2019, but Mayor Dennis Johnson, the city commission president, told the group, "I know we’re not building housing at that rate right now."



The land spanning 30th Avenue West in Dickinson to the rural area near 116th Avenue West would, under the engineering firm’s new proposal, provide for 3,860 units across rural, residential and mixed-use land. Remaining land would be used primarily for industrial purposes - including the existing Bakken Oil Express and Dakota Prairie Refinery facilities - and some commercial space.


"This area represents a significant investment on behalf of the community and others to try and accommodate a population gain," City Administrator Shawn Kessel said before the combined commissions. "Estimates show that we’re supposed to be at 45,000 (people) in short order. This area, as it’s currently proposed, will not be sufficient in meeting our residential needs."


A solution, he said, will be to identify other areas for expansion, or, as has been discussed in regard to other developments, including the 280-acre Barons Vista, to redefine the city’s density requirements. Smaller lot sizes are a possible option, but would bring about a host of other complications, from parking to snow removal, commissioners said.


"It’s an important issue, and one we’re going to have to struggle with because of developments in other areas," Kessel said.



The residential growth will place a burden on the city government to provide services to the new developments, Johnson said. Residential property tax won’t cover the cost of city services, making it more necessary to bring in other commercial and industrial endeavors to the area.


And Dickinson doesn’t just need residential space, Stark Development Corp. Executive Director Gaylon Baker said.


He urged the commissions "make sure that we have adequate room for industrial growth" in west Dickinson. The state is moving "more and more into the process of picking up value-added energy projects," he said, and "the potential for some of those projects to come to Dickinson is there."


He added: "We do want to be one of those cities that does economically benefit from value-added energy. We do believe that that future of Dickinson does depend on being a little more diversified in its economy."



Commissioners will have until December to make draft recommendations for the plan before a final version is presented and KLJ begins looking into the estimated needs to support development, project manager Carron Day said.


Regardless of what is agreed on for west Dickinson, Gene Jackson - a member of both the planning and zoning and city commissions - said the land is still not within city boundaries.


"As good as I think this is, and as good a tool as it will be when we’re all finished here, we don’t have jurisdiction over this area," he said. "But certainly we’ve got to involve the county more with this."


Johnson said that even though whatever plan the city develops "likely will not be a perfect plan," he was satisfied with Monday’s presentation.


"We have multiple years in front of us of significant infrastructure build-up. Our city is going to develop to the west and northwest," he said. "It is better to develop with a plan than to develop without a plan."


Faulx is a reporter with The Press. Contact her at 701-456-1207.


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