Residents applauded when the Minot Planning Commission declined to approve an apartment complex on Fourth Avenue Northwest near the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass Monday.
Gary Reddick, the Portland, Ore., architect who has been involved in the downtown Minot visioning project, has proposed one four-story and two three-story apartment buildings, with a total of 204 units, south of Fourth Avenue and east of 27th Street. The project goes to the Minot City Council for consideration next Monday without the planning commission's support.
Residents were disturbed by the high density of the project, located next to St. John's Catholic Church and single-family neighborhoods.
"You are trying to put 400 people in less area than we have in two square blocks," said Ed Bjork, a neighborhood spokesman. More than 160 people signed petitions against the apartments.
Neighbors had concerns about traffic congestion and noise. They also pointed out that the project runs counter to a comprehensive plan showing the area suited to single-family housing. The land is zoned agricultural and is not developed.
St. John's Catholic Church looks to sell the land, obtaining revenue to help offset costs of a church building expansion.
Alderman Amy Moen said she is bothered by the extent of the variance that is required to approve the project. The 204 units exceeds the legal density for its type of multi-family district by 44 percent. The maximum number of units should be 114.
"What kind of precedent will we be setting for any other development that comes to you?" she said.
Jon Backes, Minot attorney representing the church, and Ed Gambee of Construct N.D., representing the developer, argued that proposed underground parking and an underground culvert system that would replace an existing drainage ditch are amenities that offset above-ground density. They added that the development concept would offer a unique type of housing that's lacking in Minot.
"This will be the highest quality development in Minot," Gambee said.
The property would have parks, a pool and a clubhouse with workout room.
"I believe this project is a fantastic project just not in this area," said neighbor Suzanne Watne.
City Attorney John Van Grinsven said the 14-member council will need 11 votes to approve the zoning if the council receives formal protest from at least 20 percent of immediate neighbors before second reading and final vote.
Some residents, including church members, voiced support for the project.
Bryan Kramer, an administrator at Bishop Ryan High School, endorsed the project because of the need for affordable housing for young professionals, such as teachers.
Gambee said some apartments will be designed for seniors and others will be offered at affordable rents to flood victims and law enforcement officers.