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Commission breaks ground on courthouse renovation

The Stark County Courthouse renovation took a symbolic step forward on Tuesday immediately following the regular meeting of the Stark County Commission.

(From left to right) Stark County Commission chair Russ Hoff, assistant state's attorney James Hope and county commissioner Pete Kuntz speak on Tuesday outside the Stark County Courthouse. To their right are county commissioners Jay Elkin and Duane Wolf. The commissioners had just finished breaking ground for the courthouse renovation project.
(From left to right) Stark County Commission chair Russ Hoff, assistant state's attorney James Hope and county commissioner Pete Kuntz speak on Tuesday outside the Stark County Courthouse. To their right are county commissioners Jay Elkin and Duane Wolf. The commissioners had just finished breaking ground for the courthouse renovation project.

The Stark County Courthouse renovation took a symbolic step forward on Tuesday immediately following the regular meeting of the Stark County Commission.

After commission members asked for further details on project fees from representatives from JLG Architects and Scull Construction, the project's construction manager at risk, the commissioners donned hardhats and picked up gold-painted shovels to break ground for the courthouse expansion on what is now a lawn on the west side of the building.

Commission member Ken Zander, who sits on the county board's building committee, said construction will likely begin in the next thirty days. He added that the commission needs to issue its final approval of about $400,000 in subcontractor fees.

"The bids have been accepted and approved with condition of those explanations we talked about," he said, referring to the fees connected to items like dumpsters and portable toilets for the construction site, as well as a superintendent's salary. "I fully expect it to be approved, just a couple commissioners wanted some additional clarification."

Zander said assistant state's attorney Jim Hope had compiled some clarifying questions on behalf of the commissioners, who expected the additional information to be provided sometime Tuesday.

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The total construction schedule could take about 15 months, Zander said. When complete, including furniture and fixtures, the courthouse addition will cost around $6.48 million.

Zander said that sum has been accumulated by the county over more than six years in a capital improvements account filled by oil revenue dollars.

After years of planning, he said it was exciting to break ground and look further on to construction.

"Our original courthouse was built in 1936 and this is the first capital improvement we've made in 80 years," Zander said. "It's no different than a homeowner updating and adding an addition to their home."

Industrially zoned district could accept hazardous materials as conditional use

Following a recommendation from the Stark County Planning and Zoning Commission,

the county commission members approved a request Tuesday to rezone the county's industrial zoning district to allow for the storage of explosive and hazardous materials as a conditional use.

County planner Steve Josephson said it wasn't previously clear in county code if such activity was already a permitted use or if it would require the additional approval of a conditional use permit. Because of that, Josephson said, the county has received questions about the process in the past, especially during the oil boom, from companies looking to store hazardous materials.

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Josephson provided two lines of reasoning to go the route of conditional use.

"Number one, there are different building types and regulations that govern these kinds of materials," Josephson said. "Number two, there's landowners already out there, so they can know what's coming in and have a chance to voice their opinion as to whether they thought that was appropriate in their industrial subdivision."

Conditional use permits could apply to "potentially flammable, radioactive or other commonly recognized hazardous materials," he said.

Entities looking to obtain a permit for such use would first go through the planning and zoning process to seek initial approval, which would then be submitted to the Stark County Commission for final approval.

Tuesday's decision of the county commission members is now subject to a 30-day public comment period.

County follows city recommendation, denies 91 abatement applications

The county commission signed off on 91 abatement applications on Tuesday, all of which had previously been denied by the city of Dickinson last week in a Wednesday morning abatement meeting.

City assessor Joe Hirschfeld said the applications from Dickinson's Heartland Homes and Village manufactured home park were contesting increased property valuations. He added that the total number of applicants was the greatest he's ever seen in Dickinson.

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"I think before this year, I had three the four years I'd been here," Hirschfeld said. "I think we had four to date, before this. We're setting all kinds of records."

County commission members followed suit with the city's recommendation in denying the applications.

Related Topics: DICKINSONJLG ARCHITECTS
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