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Dickinson businesses could soon be allowed to operate as microbreweries. The Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday amended downtown commercial zoning district uses to permit townhouses, pet day cares and distillery and microbrewery pubs. Removed from permitted uses were horticulture, auto body repair and funeral services. "We periodically go through our list of uses and look at our zoning districts to see if there are maybe things that could be added that ought to be in zoning districts like this," Steve Josephson, Stark County planner, said.
Friendship Park could have its groundbreaking in fall 2018 and open in 2019. At the Jan. 8 meeting of the Dickinson Park Board, there were no community objections toward the proposed $2.6 million park on Gum Avenue. "As far as the adjoining property owners, there isn't a lot of negative feedback towards putting a park there, and that's what we wanted to really get to the bottom of," James Kramer, parks director, said.
Dickinson is readying to become one of eight medical marijuana dispensary sites named by the North Dakota Department of Health Thursday. "We have had people express interest in becoming a dispensary," Shawn Kessel, Dickinson city administrator, said. "The state, as far as I understand, is going to license eight different dispensaries in North Dakota and two grow operations." While there is a "robust state process" in place for becoming a licensed dispensary, the city is preparing its own ordinances for such a business.
Stark County Social Services in Dickinson is planning to expand its office space. The county agency needs more space at its 12th Street West location to better serve its clients and meet the demands of a growing population, Russ Hoff, social services board chairman, explained. "We're checking to see what the needs are for social services. Right now they're quite full. In fact, they're over-full," Hoff said. "They have offices where they're made into two offices and we're looking to expand that, preferably right where it's at."
Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport has received a $250,000 grant from the City of Dickinson and a $140,000 grant from Stark Development Corporation for its 2018 projects. The funds will be used as part of a local share commitment for construction of a new taxiway, Kelly Braun, airport manager, said at Tuesday's airport board meeting. Braun also hopes to receive another $435,000 from Stark County Commissioners. From the Stark Development grant, $120,000 will go toward land acquisition and another $20,000 for wetland mitigation.
Dickinson city commissioners heard a complete budget for a proposed citywide residential recycling program on Monday. If approved, there would be an increase of less than $5 per month on household utility bills. "One of the options is also a $2 to $3 increase, maybe up to $4, at the landfill," said Public Works Director Gary Zuroff. "The reason we did that is because the disposal part of the recyclables is probably one of the most expensive costs of transferring those dollars to the recycling facility."
Sarah Jennings-Trustem has been named Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce executive director. Trustem is a social studies teacher at Dickinson High School and has served as a Dickinson city commissioner since 2016. Concluding the months-long search for a new director, Katie Culver, Chamber president, lauded the selection. "She is a wonderful choice," Culver said. "She's passionate about both the community and the chamber." Trustem said she is excited to take on the new role.
Carlos Royal, a Dickinson property owner, has started a GoFundMe with the intention of suing the city for its property assessment process, calling it "corrupt" and "unfair." Disputing the claims made by Royal, City Assessor Joe Hirschfeld said the assessment process remains both fair and consistent. "The assessment process is as fair as possible," Hirschfeld said. "I don't know anybody who would say it's a perfect system nationwide. North Dakota also has some different policies and procedures that the Legislature has put in place for how we're to do our job."
It was a year of successes and challenges in Dickinson. Mayor Scott Decker described 2017 as "a very productive year" for the city. Among the year's achievements, the city moved forward on a new behavioral health center. A treatment center is needed, Decker said.
Construction of single family homes in Dickinson tripled in 2017. Through October, 56 new houses were constructed. In 2016, through October, only 18 houses were built. "We're about three times the amount," City Administrator Shawn Kessel said. "If you look at our total from one year to the next, it's significant how many single family homes were constructed." This growth signifies the local economy is rebounding, Kessel said.