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Approval granted to Five Stone Development
By Caroline Downs
Action by Berthold’s Planning & Zoning Committee on Friday and the city council in special session on Monday paved the way for Five Stone Development to break ground on Phase I of a development proposed for land east of Berthold.
The first phase would include 50 or 60 homes, according to Mayor Alan Lee, with some commercial development as well. The residential areas would include single-family houses and townhomes.
At the center of the issue was an agreement among Five Stone, the city of Berthold and Berthold Township to delineate responsibilities and authority over several aspects of the entire development.
During the Planning & Zoning Committee session, city attorney Bryan Van Grinsven noted the first half mile of the development would be located within the city’s jurisdiction, while the city and township would share jurisdiction over the second half mile. “The city and township ordinances continue to apply,” he said about the agreement.
Members of the Planning & Zoning Committee heard recommendations regarding improved storm water management in the new development from city engineer Brice Olson of Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson.
“We know we’re going to have to make some changes,” said Travis Frey, project manager for Five Stone with Allied Engineering Services in Stanley. “We’re looking at a concept plan. When we get into the design phase, it will obviously have to change.”
Planning & Zoning Committee members asked further questions about inspections, road construction, sewer and water lines, responsibility for road maintenance and other issues as they reviewed the agreement.
Finally, Harley Neshem of Gratech Company addressed the committee. “Forgive me, but I think you’re nitpicking at this thing,” he said. “These guys know what they’re doing. Sign the thing off so these guys can start building.”
The committee unanimously approved a “Do Pass” recommendation for the city council, and Mark Birdsall reported that outcome during Monday’s special city council meeting.
Lee explained the agreement included the construction of a new lagoon at Five Stone’s expense at a location about two miles north of town. “The city can hook into their pump station,” Lee said, “and we can buy capacity on a per home basis. That’s a big plus for our city.”
He noted North Prairie Rural Water District already has agreements in place for water distribution to the new development. North Prairie will also take over operation and maintenance of the sewer and lagoon system after construction is completed.
Audience members had further questions about the new lagoon system. “The design is similar in nature to the existing lagoon,” Frey said. “We’ll start with a total containment lagoon and add cells as needed. The idea is to get it farther away from town and allow the city to grow, as well as serve the development.”
He said the first cell would not require a discharge permit immediately because it would operate by evaporation. “It takes one to two years to fill a cell close to the discharge capacity,” he said.
Lee said the city’s engineer would review and sign off on all infrastructure design for the development, and that the city and North Prairie representatives would be meeting soon to establish their own agreements regarding water and sewer operations.
Lee and Five Stone partner Alex Gregg also referred to the city’s responsibility to work with North Prairie and Five Stone in preparing grant applications for state and federal funds that could be applied toward infrastructure needs in the development.
Council member Nathan Fegley mentioned Five Stone’s housing association covenants. “They’re just as restrictive as the city of Berthold, if not more restrictive,” he said.
“Even outside of our first half mile [of jurisdiction], they are agreeing to follow our covenants and guidelines,” added Birdsall.
The agreement with Five Stone includes provisions to make housing available at reduced rates to the city of Berthold for an employee, possibly in law enforcement, and to the Lewis & Clark School District for staff members. “That’s a plus for both the city and the school,” Lee said.
Finally, Five Stone will join the city and township in discussing the need for a stoplight at the junction of U.S. 2 and ND Highway 28 with the ND Department of Transportation. “We’ll put together a big effort to get stoplights,” said Lee. “Right now, the DOT says there’s not enough traffic out there.”
As members of the audience disagreed with that assumption, Gregg added, “We can all push on that--the city, the township and us.”
Council members unanimously approved a motion by roll call vote authorizing Lee to sign the agreement.
“I’m glad we finally got to this point,” said Gregg. “We’re looking forward to working with everyone and with the community.”
Alternate route to cemetery
Council members asked the audience for comments regarding an alternative route to the community’s cemetery, given that access from the south through Enbridge’s property is now restricted.
Mayor Lee noted two proposals had been offered, including a new gravel road extending west from the dumpground road that would connect to 296th Street NW just north of the cemetery.
A second suggestion was made by Joel Hanson at a previous special city council meeting to have cemetery traffic remain on pavement by taking County Road 10 west of Berthold, turning north on County Road 9, then heading east on U.S. Highway 2 to the junction with 296th Street, with Enbridge paving any unpaved sections of those roads. All vehicles would make right turns under this option.
Lee emphasized the need to hear from citizens. “Whatever works for the community is best for us,” he said.
Ralph Birdsall said he believed the logical direction for the road was the direct half mile stretch of gravel Enbridge proposed. “That’s the shortest way and it’s the safest way,” he said. “We’re going to battle truck traffic on the county roads.”
Members of the audience and council members counted four railroad crossings with the second option, while the shorter road would only cross the tracks once.
Other comments raised concerns about funeral processions having to wait for trains and safe access to the cemetery for the community’s elderly residents.
Terry Burke supported the idea of a new road. “There would be potential for nice residential development along that road, too,” he said.
Council members can be contacted with additional comments from citizens. The council will vote on the cemetery road option at the August 6th meeting.
“Enbridge indicated whichever way we wanted to go was fine with them,” Lee said.
In Other Business:
*The council approved a variance and building permit for Grayden and Jessika Cooper for the construction of a single car, attached garage at their property, pending approval from the property owner of the adjacent lot.
*Council members approved a motion to make improvements on the dumpground road, to include fixing potholes and the curve and the addition of new gravel, at the request of Mitch Keisar. Keisar recently built a gravel haul road on his own property to avoid damaging the city streets with heavy loads and to maintain safe conditions for children and families using the new day care facility on Main Street. According to council member Jim Peterson, Keisar will install a culvert where his road approaches the dumpground road.
*The council approved a motion authorizing Mayor Lee to sign a letter of commitment with the Ward County Emergency Management office regarding their participation in the hazard mitigation plan. The letter of commitment allows the city of Berthold to become eligible to apply for certain federal grant programs and funds that become available for various projects, in cooperation with the Emergency Management office.
*Council members heard comments from resident Bill Feickert related to the city’s ordinances about dogs running loose and fireworks use. Feickert believes both ordinances are being excessively violated, and he voiced his support for a local police department.
*The next regular meeting of the Berthold City Council will be held Monday, August 6th, beginning at 7:30 pm at City Hall, unless otherwise posted.