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Drainage concerns prompt discussion of leadership for new development

The Jamestown Planning Commission debated whether it had the responsibility for leadership for new development in the city. The discussion came during the commission’s regular meeting Monday and was largely prompted by water drainage concerns in southwest Jamestown.

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Dave Hillerud, chairman of the commission, asked why the City Council had not funded a study of water drainage issues in the area between Walmart and Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

City Engineer Reed Schwartzkopf said individual developers are forced to prepare water drainage plans for their property, increasing the costs of the projects and creating no consistent drainage plan.

“The City Council, during the budget, didn’t feel a storm water study was warranted from the general fund,” said Jeff Fuchs, city administrator. “It may be more appropriate to contact the economic development agency for a study in that area.”

Corey Bayer, Planning Commission member, questioned why the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. would be involved. He said little of the proposed plan includes industrial or manufacturing space.

“The JSDC is concerned with primary sector and they have had half of their funds taken by the city for infrastructure,” Bayer said. “How do they fit in?”

Harley Trefz, Planning Commission member, said developing the area could be difficult because of drainage issues.

“If I were a developer with $10 million I would go someplace else because it’s so wet,” Trefz said. “It was really shortsighted of the council to not have at least developed the partnerships to get this done.”

Fuchs said the Planning Commission should be the lead organization in dealing with issues related to planning and zoning.

The Planning Commission is an advisory board that can take no action on its own but makes recommendations to the City Council.

Hillerud proposed two special meetings with representatives of the JSDC and City Council before the January Planning Commission meeting. The first would define what the City Council expects the Planning Commission to accomplish while the second would define what is needed to facilitate development in southwest Jamestown.

In other business, the Planning Commission approved a zoning change for lots 10 through 14 of Tahran’s Addition in the Jamestown. This is the location of the old Temple Baptist Church and has been vacant for about two years since the congregation moved to a new building.

The zoning change from residential to commercial will allow the building to be renovated into office space at the request of a potential buyer.

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452

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