The City of Dickinson is looking at changing parking lot standards for developments.

Current standards require a minimum amount of parking spaces based on square footage and the number of customers and employees being accommodated.

Sites with indoor sales, for example, require one parking space per 500 square feet.

The revised ordinance would allow administrative and planning commission review of parking requirements, City Planner Walter Hadley said at the Oct. 16 meeting of the Dickinson Planning & Zoning Commission.

"If someone wants to put in a big box store and they come in and prove our code requires 250 spaces and they can show you reasonably that 225 works, you'd have the ability to have more flexibility in some of the uses we have," Hadley told commissioners.

Eliminating parking minimums would help to foster development in the city, County Planner Steve Josephson told The Dickinson Press.

"A lot of other cities are looking at their parking standards and perhaps, when it comes to commercial development, they're requiring more parking than needed," he said. "Maybe not so much here, but we've had some instances where buildings have been torn down for parking so they could meet standards."

Dickinson's downtown commercial district has no parking minimums, Josephson said.

The parking requirement can impact the city as much as developers.

"When you've got a commercial development and a certain portion of it has to be allocated for parking, it can take away the opportunity to develop that piece of land for something else, for a different use," he said.

Hadley compared the parking distances available at Prairie Hills Malls or Dickinson's Walmart against the parking available downtown.

"If you park 350 feet away from the door, they say there's lots of parking there. That's great," he said. "But if you take a 350 foot distance from your front door to downtown that puts you a block away, and people don't equate that to being close."

The parking standards are not being completely changed. Instead, the revision provides for an appeals process.

"If the developer can provide information saying we want to reduce this by a certain amount it would at least give them the opportunity to request that," Josephson said. "The decision is still going to be up to the city if they would grant that reduction."

The revised ordinance is being prepared to be brought before the Dickinson Planning & Zoning Commission at their regular meeting in November.

"We were going to bring these things up over the course of the next few months, and rather than have the city approve them individually, we were going to bring the whole thing back to Planning & Zoning for a public hearing and city commission," Josephson said.

The city would benefit from the ordinance changes.

"We wouldn't be proposing something if we didn't think there would be some sort of benefit," Josephson said. "It is a possibility the city would benefit from allowing people to reduce the amount of parking."