BURLINGTON - Two housing projects that could quadruple the population of Burlington are getting ready to begin construction this year.
The City of Burlington announced Thursday that it has annexed more than 700 acres of land southeast of the town for the creation of two separate developments. Master plans for the entire property show both mixed housing types and commercial space.
Owner/developer Joel Feist is planning the Pointe of View Third Subdivision. The 187 acres run from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's temporary housing park to the south and up the hill toward Pointe of View Winery.
The second development, known as the Highlands Ranch Subdivision, includes 535 acres and is planned by owner/developer Colton Lee Communities/Gary Gorian. The project is located up the hill behind the area known as the Speedway corner.
Both projects are in their infancy, but city officials and developers are anticipating a timely development schedule, with the first round of homes being completed in the spring of 2013, the city stated in a news release.
The two developments combined have the potential to add 5,000 residents to Burlington's population of 1,100.
Mayor Jerome Gruenberg joked that Burlington will become the state's longest and skinniest city, but he added the proposed growth is a positive development.
"We're excited to see our community thriving, especially with all of the challenges we have endured, but we also want to ensure that we can appropriately manage the growth that we are experiencing," he said in a prepared statement.
The projects will bring the need for additional police officers, more employees in street and water and sewer maintenance and additional help for the volunteer fire department. Safety along Highway 2 & 52 through the area is expected to necessitate changes in how traffic is moved and may require signaling, he said.
"All these things we will work out as we go along," Gruenberg said. "Burlington is always pretty proactive. We are working on it. We want this development to go through."
The advance planning that is taking place among the city officials, school officials and the developers is aimed at ensuring that the growth doesn't bring more challenges for the community, which is still recovering from last summer's flood. Future meetings will be held to address concerns of city officials and residents. The city also will be providing additional information to the public once those details are finalized and the developments are further along in the planning process.
Clarke Ranum, superintendent of Des Lacs-Burlington schools, said the school board will be discussing how it might respond to the potential influx of large numbers of students. He said the construction should be gradual, giving the district a chance to ramp up to handle more students. The district already has seen some enrollment increase, adding 63 new students last year.
Among future options are to transition seventh and eighth-graders from the Burlington school, where most of the growth is occurring, to the high school in Des Lacs, using portables if necessary, Ranum said. Longer term, construction of more facilities may be necessary, but what those facilities would be and how they would be paid for is uncertain, he said.
The first step for the two housing projects will be getting infrastructure in place.
Burlington has sewer services that already extend to the development areas through lines that the city already uses to serve the West River Water and Sewer District, located between Burlington and Minot. Burlington also has water service through the Northwest Area Water Supply project, and Gruenberg said engineers are in discussions regarding how water service will be provided to the new areas.
Construction of a water tank and sewer lift stations would have to be part of the project, Gruenberg said. Burlington is helping the developer with water and sewer costs using a state grant that the city received for the purpose of infrastructure expansion.
The housing projects also are causing the local economic development corporation to take another look at plans for its property that currently hosts the FEMA park. The corporation has been planning to turn the property into a single-family housing development once the temporary units no longer are needed. Gruenberg said the corporation is reconsidering in light of other housing being created. There may be other options, such as a retail and apartment combination, that are better suited to the property, he said.