Commission approves first reading of Historic Preservation Commission resizing

The Dickinson City Commission met this week and approved the first readings of an ordinance amendment that set the Historic Preservation Commission to seven members instead of five and two planned unit developments on Patterson Lake. Dickinson Police Chief Dustin Dassinger also presented four of his employees with employee appreciation certificates.

Museum Coordinator and Historic Preservationist Robert Fuhrman lists off the changes to an ordinance involving Dickinson's Historic Preservation Commission during the administration portion of the Dickinson City Commission meeting at City Hall Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

With intentions to revive the presence of the Historic Preservation Commission, the director for the Dickinson Museum Center is proposing to amend an ordinance that allows the commission to expand its members.

Museum Coordinator and Historic Preservationist Robert Fuhrman presented a list of amendments as a first reading to the Dickinson City Commission on Tuesday, May 4, at City Hall. The main amendment changes the size of the Historic Preservation Commission from five to seven members.

Other changes include that the Historic Preservation Commission’s purpose would encourage the recognition of eligible sites or properties to be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, as well as adding a demonstrated formal knowledge of planning to the skill set of commissioner candidates and a timeframe for the submission of commission minutes to the North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office.

“So they really are pretty minor. I think the most important one for us was taking the size of the commission from five to seven members,” Fuhrman said. “We find that sometimes our members are virtually all professionals because the state and the National Park Service requires a certain set of skill sets; they want people who are archeologists, architects, landscape designers, this, that and the other. And it’s sometimes hard for them to make meetings. So if we can have a slightly larger commission, we feel like we can get a regular quorum.”

According to the ordinance, the Historic Commission Preservation is only required to meet quarterly but Fuhrman said that the panel meets monthly, which sometimes puts a demand on the commissioners. So by spreading the burden on two additional members, it alleviates the amount of responsibility among the commission, Fuhrman added.


One of the main goals of the Historic Preservation Commission is to promote the preservation of Dickinson’s historical building environment.

“We’re one of those cities here in North Dakota that has some really terrific buildings — many of them date back, especially downtown, to the building boom of the late 1890s up until about 1920 or so. A lot of these brick buildings downtown are 100 years old and they’re still very vibrant parts of the downtown,” Fuhrman said. “North Dakotans are pretty frugal. I’m not a native North Dakota but I’ve learned that in the fours years I’ve been here. So it’s not unusual for a town that appreciates its historic resources to find buildings that are 100 years old still, (and) still being used and still found as being regarded as very desirable business locations. People are pretty talented in adapting old buildings to current uses. Look at the Brickhouse, for instance. That started out as a drug store for a long, long time — it makes a heck of a restaurant.”

Fuhrman also noted the Historic Preservation Commission is trying to revitalize the organization by putting more emphasis on its Local Landmark Program, which started in 2008 as a way to acknowledge and honor properties considered to be historically valuable to the community.

“This is the first reading (and then) it goes to a public hearing. So it’ll be interesting to see if the public weighs in on it at all. I think it would be really great if they did just to acknowledge (the ordinance change),” Fuhrman said, adding, “... I think for a long time, the Historic Preservation Commission has been under the radar and so we’re trying to take some steps to step that up a little bit.”

The commission approved the first reading of the amendments for the Historic Preservation Commission and will revisit the item on May 18 as well as the two ordinances the commissioners unanimously voted in favor of that involved reclassifying and rezoning portions of Patterson Lake Estates, from R-1 Single Family to Planned Unit Development (PUD).

Planning Director Walter Hadley shows where the planned unit developments (PUDs) are to be located on Patterson Lake during the public hearing portion of the Dickinson City Commission meeting at City Hall Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

The reason for the two separate PUDs is because the land is not contiguous, Planning Director Walter Hadley said. Currently, the area is zoned as R-1 Single Family. The other portion of the lake frontage is zoned for agricultural use. Hadley said that a property buyer could come in and purchase the land and use it for a restaurant/business usage.


“The planned unit development, or PUD ,is an overlay. So what it does is it gives the city the ability to be a little more flexible. We could have some mixed uses, we could do whatever,” Hadley said.

Like with the old hospital in Dickinson, which is a PUD, the city allowed for mixed uses with hopes for success, Hadley noted.

“.It gives us some leverage and it’s really the only way that we had to try to legitimize the cabins and homes. There’s some really nice homes and some little vacation cabins, which is what it really was intended to be I think originally,” Hadley said.

Dickinson Police Senior Officer Chad Hopponen receives an employee appreciation certificate from Chief Dustin Dassinger Tuesday, May 4, 2021, during the Dickinson City Commission meeting for his efforts to organize the annual Skate with a Cop, that took place Feb. 27 at the West River Ice Center. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

The Dickinson City Commission also recognized four employees from the Dickinson Police Department during the employee appreciation portion of Tuesday's meeting. Dickinson Police Chief Dustin Dassinger presented employee appreciation certificates to the police department’s Records Clerk Brandi Aaron for her contribution to the annual Daddy Daughter Dance and Heroes Ball, Administrative Assistant Darnyl Malkowskifor the Daddy Daughter Dance, Senior Officer Chad Hopponen for Skate with a Cop and Detective Sgt. Kylan Klauzer for Heroes Ball.

“The Dickinson Police Department is always trying to come up with ways for the public to interact with police personnel in a non-police situation. I want to make sure that the community realizes that our officers are professional and that they’re also human, and they can really see the humanistic side of law enforcement. Our officers do an excellent job every day (interacting) with the community and trying to promote a positive image of the city and doing their job the best they can,” Dassinger said.


Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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