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Group of Berthold residents voice their opposition to new residential development

A group of Berthold residents who live south of the railroad tracks near Ward County 10 went to the city council meeting held July 1st to express concerns about water drainage problems in their yards and basements--and stayed to voice their opposition to a residential development proposed for the area.

7/10/13 (Wed)

No opposition to Main Street Development

By Caroline Downs

A group of Berthold residents who live south of the railroad tracks near Ward County 10 went to the city council meeting held July 1st to express concerns about water drainage problems in their yards and basements--and stayed to voice their opposition to a residential development proposed for the area.

David Shelkey started the discussion by describing the amount of water running through his yard almost continually this summer and flooding other places in that portion of town.

“We’re getting the brunt of it,” he said as he talked about sloughs and wetlands staying full and the drainage pattern changing from a northern flow to a southern flow since Enbridge has finished constructing their rail-loading facility in that area.

“Now there’s a spur line five feet tall that separates north from south, and there was water over County Road 10 in two places,” Shelkey said. “All that water is coming back our way.”

He also pointed out changes in drainage at the city’s golf course and at the spillway behind the Berthold Farmers Elevator.

He and Mayor Alan Lee exchanged comments about the unusually high water table this year and comparisons to water problems in 2011.

Shelkey’s neighbor Christy Pond added her concerns about the impact of the Enbridge construction project on the natural drainage. “How can we get help from the source that caused [the problem]?” she asked.

Lee said the city relied on engineering reports from Enbridge and the county water board’s decision regarding the construction. “They approved the drainage,” he said, “but we need to look into this.” He and council member Steve Ibach agreed they would contact Enbridge officials to discuss the situation.

Greenways Development
sparks citizen comments
A request from representatives of Greenways Development Group LLC to change the zoning for a 40-acre tract immediately south of Berthold and west of Ward County Road 10 from low-density residential to medium-density residential sparked lively discussion among council members and citizens at the meeting.

Nathan Fegley reported the developers made the request at the city’s Planning and Zoning Committee meeting in June. “They want 5,000 square-foot lots, with 50-foot setbacks,” he said. “They’re going to put modular houses with attached garages on the lots, with the zoning requiring at least 1,100 square-foot homes.”

He said several citizens spoke against the proposed development at that meeting, with 17 residents signing a petition stating reasons they wanted the city council to reject the proposal. According to Fegley, those residents raised concerns about increased traffic issues, impact on the city sewer system and further problems with water drainage, among other topics.

“Their proposed layout is 139 lots on 40 acres,” he said. “That comes out to less than four lots per acre.”

Bruce Zahedi, an engineer with Moore Engineering working on the project, said the final design would be closer to three lots per acre, with paved streets in a cul-de-sac arrangement. He also noted the developer was aware of water issues on the property.

“We will do our due diligence on this, not to add more water to the existing problem,” he said, explaining that one solution could be to deepen existing sloughs to serve as holding ponds for drainage water. “We’re prepared to sit down and meet with you on this.”

Gary Kramlich, Minot, represented Greenways Development Group. “We’d like to finish the plat so building sites will be available next spring,” he said. He emphasized the developer was waiting for the zoning change in order to continue work on the project design and engineering.

Berthold residents present at the meeting repeated their concerns about water drainage issues, the impact of three housing projects on Berthold, and the fact that a project from an outside developer was under consideration when a similar proposal made by Shelkey two years ago was rejected by the council. They also presented a written copy of all their concerns to the city council.

Shelkey told the council he wanted to protect his own interests and the value of his property. “Right now, my house is appraised at over $400,000,” he said. “You have 12 houses for sale in Berthold now for between $150,000 and $400,000. Does the city really want manufactured homes out there?”

Fegley noted the make-up of the Berthold City Council had changed completely since Shelkey proposed his project. “You have different people sitting here now, with a different perspective,” he said.

Mayor Lee reminded the audience that no project would be feasible without changes to the city’s lagoon system. “Until the sewer issue is taken care of, nothing can go forward,” he said. “Tonight, [the developer] is asking us to approve a zoning request. They have to go step-by-step.”

Chris Burnside offered a motion to approve the requested zoning change, with a second from Fegley.  “Changing the density is all we’re doing [tonight], and I don’t see an issue with that,” Burnside said.

Fegley said additional housing should help the community’s workforce problems. “They can’t find housing here,” he said, adding that he wanted to see Berthold grow. “My hope is that one day I don’t have to go to Minot for anything.”

Steve Ibach said he believed the city could work with a developer to address the residents’ and city’s concerns.

“People are saying they want a pool, they want a grocery store, but we have to grow in order to have those things,” he said. “I want to be sure we do this right.”

Alechia Neubauer cast the only dissenting vote on the council, although she agreed with other council members about the need for the city to grow. “I just don’t like that [development] idea or that location,” she said.

The motion to rezone the 40-acre tract under consideration by Greenways Development Group passed on a 3-1 vote. A plat design and engineering for the development will be presented to the council for approval at a later date.

Main Street plan mixes residential, commercial

A second proposed development starting at the north end of Main Street and extending to U.S. Highway 2 was received quietly by residents during the meeting.

Curt Urbanski of Dakota Neighborhood Development in Minot reviewed a preliminary plat for a mixed residential and commercial development that included single family homes and twin homes on lots 60’ to 70’ wide.

He provided examples of the ranch style, split entry and two-story houses available to families, and the two styles of twin homes that would be built. The modular homes would be constructed elsewhere and shipped to Berthold by rail.

“These houses are designed for families,” he said. “We’re trying to build a community here.”

He noted the twin homes would be offered for rent or for sale, with the single family homes priced between $160,000 and $190,000. “No zoning change is needed,” he said, “and this development would include paved streets, curb and gutter.”

He also addressed the standing water issue in Berthold, saying no changes would be made in the drainage patterns. “We tried to keep it the way it works today,” he said. “This area drains out to Highway 2 now.”

Commercial ventures proposed for the development include a 40-unit hotel built in partnership with Cobblestone Inn & Suites, a grocery store, a sandwich shop, and other smaller stores. Urbanski said he had already spoken with persons interested in opening a restaurant and a grocery store in Berthold.

Neubauer asked if the commercial or the residential properties would be developed first. “That depends on the sewer,” said Urbanski. “We know houses are needed, we know the motel is needed, and we need more residents to support a grocery store.”

Council members approved the preliminary plat with a unanimous vote, as recommended by the Planning & Zoning Committee. Urbanski said he was prepared to work on the final plat.

Portion of city sewer
to be cleaned, inspected
A project to clean a portion of the city’s sewer lines will also provide information to engineers designing an expansion for the city’s sewer and lagoon system.

The city council approved spending an estimated $26,788 to have Kemper Construction Company of Minot use their equipment and camera to clean and inspect the city’s sewer lines constructed of PVC pipe.

According to council members, the city has 16,600 linear feet of sewer pipe, with about 9,400 feet of that in PVC pipe.

“This will help us determine more accurately where the new lining needs to go,” said Mayor Lee.

City engineer Brice Olson of Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson in Minot noted the information collected from the camera inspection would assist his office in completing a review of the city’s sewer system. That review will lead to recommendations for an expansion of the system.

Olson told the council he hopes to have the review finished and ready to present at the council’s August meeting. He noted that while the review is taking place, staff members are also researching various types of grants the city of Berthold can apply for to help with funding a sewer expansion project.

New water meters,
new billing procedure
City auditor Penni Miller and public works director Dwight Thompson reported on progress made in installing the new 254 water meters for residences and businesses in town. Thompson noted he could read all the new meters remotely from the street, and that some property owners would be receiving letters about the need to upgrade plumbing in their homes or businesses in order for the new meter to operate.

He also said Berthold Public School will be paying a higher water bill than previously. The old meter on the school building was installed incorrectly, and the new meter will provide an accurate account of water actually used in the building.

Miller said she had received training in using the recording unit for the meter readings. She is also in the process of transferring customer account information to the city’s new software program. “Once the balances are entered, we can go back and bill for June and then for July,” she said. “After that, the billing will be done on a regular monthly basis.

In other action:
•Council members approved minutes of the June meeting and payment of the city’s bills, as presented.

•The council renewed liquor licenses for the Aloha Bar and the Tumbleweed Cafe.

•Council members approved a request to block traffic from a section of Main Street on July 5th from 10 am to 3 pm for the vendor fair scheduled during the Berthold All-School Reunion.

•Thompson reported that Berthold Farmers Elevator asked about depositing trees cleared from their property at the old landfill. Mayor Lee said representatives from the elevator could request a burning permit. Thompson and the council members discussed problems with the current roll-off situation in the community, with trash being stacked at the roll-offs and next to the city shop by residents. Lee reiterated that the council is seeking a solution to the garbage disposal issues in Berthold, while continuing to make plans to close the old landfill and level the ground there.

•Council members approved a bid submitted by Gratech for $28,000 to upgrade and gravel the road at Thiel Court. Other bids were received from Don Brown Construction and North Country Construction.

•The council approved the city’s nuisances and offenses ordinances on second reading. The approved ordinances will be published in The Kenmare News for the public, following a final review by the city attorney.

•Chief of Police Al Schmidt reported on plans with fire chief Rich Blahut to test the city’s warning sirens. He noted that Zion Lutheran Church was designated as a storm shelter for the community, along with Berthold Public Schools. “If a tornado is imminent, I have a key to the school,” he said. Miller said she had provided information about emergency procedures to residents of the trailer park, the RV park and Minnesota Ltd. housing.

•Chief Schmidt talked with council members about providing a locked receptacle to hold unwanted or expired prescription medications turned in by residents, as well as used diabetic needles. “I would take them to the facility in Minot for disposal,” said Schmidt.

•Council members approved a motion to require background checks done for potential rental housing occupants, based on Chief Schmidt’s recommendation. The requirement covered mobile homes, campgrounds and any motel that would offer extended stay or long-term rooms.

•The council approved building permit applications for garage construction from David Carico and Richard Debertin, as recommended by the Planning & Zoning Committee.

•The Berthold City Council will schedule a special meeting with representatives of the North Dakota Development, Inc. group to review a proposed developer’s agreement for a project planned on the north side of U.S. Highway 2, across from the Farmers Union Oil Co. site.

•The next regular meeting of the Berthold City Council will take place Monday, August 5th, at 7:30 pm at City Hall.