A contractor's proposal to bring workforce housing to a Minot job site received approval Monday from city planners who could identify no alternative.
The Minot Planning Commission is recommending the Minot City Council approve the request of Cascade Financial of Colorado Springs, Colo., to place 23 mobile homes on undeveloped property just off the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass in northwest Minot. The permit would expire when work is completed, but no more than two years. The company is bringing in workers to construct an extended-stay hotel and the Anthem Highlands Subdivision.
The council recently adopted a temporary housing ordinance that allows for workforce housing on vacant industrial property. The ordinance was meant to address employees working for companies on flood recovery. The Cascade Financial request doesn't relate to flood recovery and involves commercially-zoned property. Proposed to house up to 46 workers, the project also is larger than workforce housing solutions previously approved by the council for companies not involved in flood recovery. Those solutions typically involved converting existing office or warehouse buildings temporarily for fewer than a dozen workers.
Commissioners Rita Curl Langager and Wallace Berning raised concern about the plan. Langager said the city needs to have a mobile home park established for workforce housing rather than allowing scattered housing in places where it could adversely affect existing neighborhoods.
Commissioner Jeff Stremick, a realtor, said there have been efforts to create that mobile home park for workers but it is impossible to find the available land.
Commissioner Dave Pankow said it is difficult to restrict companies from providing their own housing units when Minot's housing market is so tight.
"It's either that or 50 campers around the site," he said.
"There aren't perfect solutions out there," Commissioner John Zimmerman added. "But there are ones that are reasonable and ones we can control until the supply and demand gets more in balance. ... We also have to tip our hats to the developers who are trying to figure out these solutions."
The commission is recommending that the company post financial security to cover removal of the housing to ensure the site is cleaned up once the permit expires.
Commissioners took a different course in recommending denial of a permit for a temporary duplex made from shipping containers. A Grand Forks applicant sought to create living quarters on a private lot in the Erik Ramstad Middle School area while working in the area over the next two years. Although the duplex would be similar to a Federal Emergency Management Agency unit, the commission voted 8-4 against it because it would be in place well past the time when FEMA units are removed.
"My biggest concern is it would have a detrimental effect on the redevelopment of the neighborhood that would be hard to overcome," Langager said.
The commission advanced two apartment projects and one mobile home park. The 58-unit park, proposed by Hanner Holdings of Minot, would be located just outside city limits at the north end of 16th Avenue Southeast, east of 46th Street.
Northern Plains Apartments would be located in Northern Plains Energy Park on the northwest corner of 36th Avenue and Sixth Street Northeast. The project calls for 144 units, which requires a variance because the zoning limit is 137. The commission agreed to the variance and zoning for the apartments.
The other apartment project involves two complexes on property zoned for a maximum of 50 residents. The property is located on the south side of 30th Avenue Northwest and on the west side of Fifth Street. An office building is located on a portion of the property. The commission is recommending approval of a zone change from commercial to multi-family residential.