St. Benedict's permit is put on hold again: Retirement home wants to start a daycare

Dickinson residents have to wait a little longer to learn the fate of a group daycare at St. Benedict's Health Center. During a special meeting Wednesday morning, the Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission voted to table the special use permit ...

Dickinson residents have to wait a little longer to learn the fate of a group daycare at St. Benedict's Health Center.

During a special meeting Wednesday morning, the Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission voted to table the special use permit for St. Benedict's for the second time since it was denied.

Zoning commission Chair Earl Abrahamson said he did not want to pressure the parties involved by expediting the process.

"Whatever our recommendation is (the city commission) may want to do something different," Abrahamson said. "They indicated they feel they would probably pass it with the stipulations."

He said it was likely out of either "respect or fear" the commission sent it back to the planning and zoning commission to re-evaluate.


"That's where the consternation comes in; this is not a political body,...and we're being asked to make a political decision," Abrahamson said.

In December 2006, St. Benedict's Administrator Jon Frantsvog requested a special use permit to establish a group daycare on property owned by the nursing home facility.

At the December planning and zoning meeting, neighbor Kathy Ugrin opposed the special permit, along with others who had sent in letters against the group daycare. The permit request was tabled until the January planning and zoning meeting, where it was denied.

Frantsvog petitioned the denial to the Dickinson City Commission at its March 19 meeting. There the commissioners agreed they'd like see an agreement reached between Frantsvog and the concerned neighbors. To aid that effort, the commissioners sent the request back to planning and zoning.

The meeting was already tabled at planning and zoning on Feb. 21, where the Ugrins and St. Benedict's agreed to reopen communications. Since the last meeting, the two parties have just started talking with each other.

"I have not talked to anyone; my husband talked to (city commissioner) Joe Frenzel," Ugrin said.

During the city commission meeting where the issue was raised, Frenzel said he would be willing to get involved with the issue to open communication lines.

Frantsvog added Greg Ugrin had met with him the night prior to Wednesday's planning and zoning meeting.


At Wednesday's meeting, Ugrin said she was still at the point where she would like to not have the daycare facility.

"We'd be foolish to say 'go ahead,' because this is our property," Ugrin said of their residence which is immediately next door to the proposed group daycare.

She said Frantsvog should address everyone's concerns before proceeding with the permit change. Ugrin added she felt her family is being forced to sell its property to St. Benedict's.

"There's no urgency on our part to purchase or buy their property," Frantsvog said.

St. Benedict's Health Center owns three houses on Eighth Street East, where the proposed daycare would be located. Frantsvog said he has talked with a fourth resident to purchase a house at a later date.

"Every property owner that I've had conversations with about our interest in their home has always been, 'When you're ready to sell, we're interested in buying,'" Frantsvog said.

Frantsvog had informal conversations about four years ago with Greg Ugrin to purchase their house. He said when meeting with Greg Ugrin Tuesday of this week, they discussed a more formal offer.

Ugrin said there was nothing wrong with St. Ben's having a daycare, but she didn't agree with the reasoning for a daycare. She said the daycare should be in place that doesn't affect her property.


"Once you allow this, what comes next?" Ugrin said.

She also said 36 children coming and going caused concern. Frantsvog has expressed an interest in eventually having a double group daycare, which would allow 36 children.

Ugrin feels like she's being asked to compromise a lot, whereas Frantsvog is not compromising anything, she said.

Ugrin said she and a few neighbors said the house owned by St. Ben's on the corner Eighth Street East and Fourth Avenue East would be an acceptable alternative for a group daycare site, but Frantsvog refused to consider it. She said he also refused to show the interior of the two houses so she could compare the facilities.

When a couple of the commissioners suggested the issue could not continue to be delayed indefinitely, Ugrin said this isn't a quick fix.

"You guys are pushing us as fast as you can push it,"Ugrin said. "This is a big decision on our part. We're looking at moving out of our home and it is our home."

She said also given the high demand for housing in Dickinson, it's not been easy to find a similarly priced home to move into.

"Normally when somebody wants your house they come with an offer, but one's never been made; it's me having to go to them," Ugrin said.


Planning and zoning commissioner Ron Hartl said the issue of whether the Ugrins sell their house is not at the crux of the issue before the commission. Hartl had hoped between the two meetings there would have been discussion of the stipulations on the permit.

"We're looking for more resolve from the parties involved, and that's the long and short of it," Hartl said.

Abrahamson said there have been six residents opposed to the usage permit. Hartl said there also was considerable support for a group daycare.

The six residents opposing the project were specified during an earlier planning and zoning meeting, when Ugrin stated she had collected the names of people against the permit change.

Three residents have sent letters of opposition. Of those residents, two have also signed a document stating they are not opposed to it.

During the meeting, Frantsvog said he had heard one may have since rescinded his approval of the permit change.

Abrahamson said although the nearby residents were opposed to the special use permit, he was not sure of the reason for the opposition.

The planning and zoning commission's regular meeting is scheduled for April 18 at 7:10 a.m., at Dickinson City Hall. If the commissioners learn there has been some progress made, the St. Benedict's special use permit issue will be added to the agenda.


Otherwise, the issue will again be brought to planning and zoning when new details are available.

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