A proposal on building permits in flood-affected areas of Minot was approved by the Ward County Planning Commission at a meeting Thursday evening.
The moratorium, which would prevent the issuance of building permits in areas that were ravaged by the flooding of the Souris River, would last for one year. The item will be discussed, and possibly approved, at the next meeting of the Ward County Board of Commissioners, which is scheduled for Sept. 20.
Planning commissioner John Fjedahl supported the idea of a moratorium, stating that it would not be wise to approve building permits "until we have a defined flood plain, and how this river channel will be dealt with."
James C. Falcon/MDN
A home in the neighborhood of Perkett School was lifted off of its foundation by the Souris River flooding. During a meeting of the Ward County Planning Commission Thursday, a moratorium on building permits in flood-ravaged areas was discussed. Commissioner Ron Moen pointed out that the Perkett neighborhood was one of the hardest hit.
Currently, a flood plain has yet to be established, which leaves homeowners wondering whether or not they should rebuild. The moratorium would also prevent those who own lots in areas that were hit by the flood to build a home and then sell it.
"What if somebody has property and along this area, and they unload it sell it to somebody else?" Fjedahl said. "Then we come along with our new flood plane and deem it unbuildable?"
Dana Larsen, county highway engineer, agreed that the moratorium was a good idea.
"I think it would be a good idea in those areas directly flooded this year," Larsen said. "Even if you made it six months or no more than a year... I doubt there's that many people eager to go down and build down there (in the areas flooded). I would say if you have a home down there, I don't think we could say no. I'm talking blank open space, a lot or two."
Commissioner Ron Moen pointed out one example of building in an area that was formerly described as a flood plain. The area around Perkett School, in western Minot, was one of the hardest hit. He said that the area, for the longest time, was suggested that it wouldn't be a good place to build.
"Then, when it was determined it was no longer in the flood plain the flood gates opened and they built tons of new and expensive homes," Moen said. "Those homeowners are furious with the city that it allowed building permits to be allowed in that area."
Commissioner Norman "Jay" Livingston, however, did not approve of the moratorium, calling it "a blanket policy...and I hate blanket policies." Livingston said that as there is no approved flood plain, there is no basis to stop property owners from building if they aren't in an approved flood plan. That, he said, would be like "taking their use of their property."
"I think, personally, it's irresponsible if we don't address this sooner than later," Fjedahl argued.
The commissioners voted to have a moratorium drafted and referred to Roza Larson, county state's attorney, for approval, and then presented to the county commissioners. Livingston was the lone "no" amongst a sea of affirmatives.