Letter to the Editor

Hope They Know What They Are Doing

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The 422-unit housing project northwest of the Barefoot Bar, on 65 acres of farmland owned by Butch Parks was approved by the Dickinson County Board of Adjustment Dec. 26 after more than three hours of presentation and pro-and-con comment. The request was nearly identical to the request denied by the same Board of Adjustment Sept. 26.

How did the developers manage to get approval of the same rezoning request (A-1, Agricultural to R-3 Residential)?

The original proposal was a maximum capacity plan not based upon any market study and had over 250 condominium units plus a restaurant in addition to the possible over 270 units of singles, doubles, tri-plexes and four-plexes. The restaurant and that many condominium units without lake frontage would not be supported by the market and the developer "gave up" 100 units and the commercial.

Although the developer has received approval for 428 units, there is only a detailed plan for 62 — everything else is concept, left to the developer’s discretion within standards that they made up and the Board of Adjustment approved (rather than applying the standards of the county’s own zoning ordinance).

Three members of the Board of Supervisors were persuaded to approve the rezoning, over objections from over 200 adjacent affected property owners when the landowner threatened to raise hogs on the land if the developers' request was not approved. The engineer for the developer urged the supervisors to listen to voters rather than property owners.

So, we can only hope that the county (who has never approved a planned unit development before) and the developer (who has never attempted a project of over 400 units), can at least proceed with caution on the first 62 units and learn how to make improvements on each of the four subsequent phases.

The final request from the developer is to use Tax Increment Financing (the difference in taxes generated from the land undeveloped versus developed) for a period of 10 years to repay them for their private costs of development (undisclosed at this time). This will compete with development already approved to the north in Spirit Lake. If the county does not use TIF as a staged incentive to gain control over each phase, in order to correct mistakes, they should not approve TIF.

Chris Enger

(Enger represents 72 adjacent affected owners of over $30 million taxable value.)