Minot is another step closer to getting a Walmart on North Hill after the Minot City Council voted 8-5 Monday to approve a zoning change and subdivision plan.
As an ordinance, the zoning change will require a second vote at a future meeting, and Wal-Mart will need to hang onto all eight votes of support, the minimum needed to approve an ordinance.
Wal-Mart's project on 21st Avenue Northwest, just east of the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass, drew opposition from neighboring residents. They voiced concerns about the traffic and other repercussions of living next to a major retail store. One resident spoke for her 11-year-old daughter, who worries that the noise and bright lights will keep her awake at night.
"A month ago, I would have said I would have voted for this project. But I have done a lot of soul searching and I have done a lot of research," council member Amy Moen said. "Will a second Walmart store draw new shoppers to Minot? Is there an economic benefit to having a second Walmart in Minot? No. Every penny will go out of state."
Moen said Minot doesn't need a Walmart to provide jobs or business competition.
"When Walmart opened its first store in Minot over 15 year ago, we needed it. The economy was stagnant, and we were thrilled to have any large retailer come to our city. But we aren't the same city," she said. "Minot is now in a position where we can choose to be picky, and we can say no."
Voting with Moen against the Walmart store were Milt Miller, George Withus, Dean Frantsvog and Mark Jantzer. Voting for the project were Blake Krabseth, Dave Lehner, Lisa Olson, Tom Seymour, Kevin Connole, Larry Frey, Jim Hatlelid and Scott Knudsvig. Council member Bob Miller, a Walmart employee, abstained.
The Minot Planning Commission had voted 7 to 4 to recommend the Minot City Council approve the project after neighbors voiced concerns about traffic and potential for increased crime. In its approval, the planning commission dropped the requirement that the landowner donate property for a future bypass interchange. As approved by the commission and council, the Walmart store would not be allowed to have overnight camping.
The Wal-Mart corporation agreed to install signals at the store entrance off 21st Avenue and build turn lanes on 21st Avenue at Sunset and the store entrance. Wal-Mart and the city are discussing a joint project involving signal installation at 21st Avenue and the bypass.
In other business, the council approved on first reading a revised set of zoning ordinances. City planners and a consultant have been working with the planning commission for some time, and several weeks ago engaged a special committee to help tweak the new ordinances.
The council also agreed to a letter of support for the Minot Housing Authority to obtain a $1.5 million grant approved by the 2013 Legislature. The housing authority would use the money to operate and maintain temporary housing units in Virgil Workman Village as low-income residences once the Federal Emergency Management Agency's mission ends in September. Residents with FEMA units on private lots must remove them by Oct. 1 unless they obtain an extension from the city.