June 12, 2013

Golf course expansion project receives a new breath of life

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Three months ago, the Watford City City Council said that it was not interested in using a PILOT (payment in lieu of tax) program to pay for a nine-hole expansion of the Fox Hills Golf Course & Country Club.
So the golf course went back to the drawing board to come up with a new concept that would get the project back on track. And during the city council’s meeting on June 3, David Johnson, who has been spearheading the expansion project that would turn the course into 18 holes, picked a new concept that had council members nodding their heads in agreement.
According to Johnson, the key to moving the project forward, and hopefully for construction of the project to start yet in 2013, is the city’s willingness to swap land that it intends to use to expand the city’s lagoons with developers and then relocate the lagoons to a new location.
“The main problem that we have had in expanding the golf course is obtaining the land,” stated Johnson. “The Stenehjem family is willing to donate their land and Black Gold, a development company, is willing to either sell or swap land to make this happen. But if the city puts the lagoons on the land that they have acquired, it will wreck our project.”
According to Johnson, the land that the city is intending to use for its lagoon expansion is extremely hilly and is situated near existing homes, which does not make it ideal for lagoons. But it would be a perfect fit for expansion of the golf course.
“The value of the land is $1.262 million,” stated Johnson. “And the golf course is willing to pay the city back for the land. However, the course is asking that those funds be the last we would raise after the course is finished.”
While the city did have concerns about not being paid immediately for the land, council members were in agreement this was a concept that would work.
“I don’t know if we can wait two years for the $1.2 million,” stated Brent Sanford, Watford City mayor. “We’ve got to move forward with the sewer and lagoon project.”
As for the city relocating the lagoons, Curt Moen, city planner, says that would not be an issue.
“We could move the lagoons farther to the north,” stated Moen. “We do have the option and we are not out anything by doing that. Overall, this is a win-win situation when you look at the development. David has done a good job of putting the moving pieces together.”
Sanford also questioned Wyatt Voll, city attorney, as to whether or not the city could sell the land to Black Gold or if the property would have to be listed with a realtor.
“The city would have to change its ordinances in order to sell the land,” stated Voll.
According to Voll, he is going to be meeting with representatives of Black Gold to work out the details and bring the ordinance changes back to the council.
During Monday night’s meeting, the council also denied a zoning change request from the developer for a commercial and residential development project planned to the west of the Gray Office Building.
According to Tom Dillon of Midwest Realty Advisors, the project would include a 41-unit three-story apartment building as well as a commercial office building.
While the zoning change request passed the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission on a 4-3 vote, Glen Beard, who sits on the commission, stated there were concerns about the developer trying to put too much development into a small space, as well as concerns about increased traffic in the neighborhood.
“I voted ‘no’ on the zoning change when it came before the Planning Commission because of the apartment unit,” stated Shane Homiston. “I don’t think a high denisty unit can work there. So if an area is not coducive to being rezoned R-4, then why rezone it.”
Marty Mulder, city councilman, also expressed his concern for the people who are living in single family homes next to the property.
“If we did rezone the property, we  might be going against the wishes of the people living there,” stated Mulder. “People bought their property knowing it was R-1 and now we could change that zoning.”
In other business, the council:
• Approved the renewal of liquor and beer licenses from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 for Long X Bottle Shop; Coborn’s, Inc; Watford City Hospitality Group, LLC; South Park Extended Stay; Six Shooters, LLC; D & M’s Office; Little Missouri Grille, Inc; Marquardt Inc. (dba TJ’s Pizza & Suds); Watford City Bar, Inc; American Legion Club; and Fox Hills Golf & Country Club.
• Approved the first reading of annexation applications submitted by Kenneth Rogness, 1504 Main Street South; Black Gold Development, LLC – Dakota Gold Golf Course Development (NE1/4 Section 17, T150N, R98W), 252.72 acres; and Cherry Creek Developers – Hawk Creek, 904 17th Ave. NE.
• Approved an amended final plat submitted by Pheasant Ridge/Jay Moore for property located in Section 19, Township 150N, 2.079 acres.
• Approved an amended final plat submitted by South Park Addition/Jay Moore for property located in Section 19, Township 150 North, Range 98 West, 13.87 acres.
• Approved a conditional use permit submitted by Watford Express Laundry for property located at 1101 2nd Ave. SE for the placement of a 14x36 trailer for management housing on C1 property.
• Approved a zone change application submitted by Vet Experts LLC/Bruce Pedersen to re-zone property from AG to C1 on a tract of land in the NW¼ of the SE¼, Section 24, Township 150 North, Range 99 West.
• Approved a simple lot split submitted by Vet Experts LLC/Bruce Pedersen to create two parcels from one property located at 770 3rd Ave. SW contingent on a right-of-way easement deed being recorded for the 33 foot right-of-way on the western boundary of the lot.
• Approved a variance application submitted by The Highlands/Adam Berger changing the front and/or rear setback from 25 to 20 feet.
• Approved a final plat submitted by the Highlands/Adam Berger for property located at the SE ¼ of Section 13, Township 150 North, Range 99 West, 42.66 acres.
• Approved an annual step change for Curtis Larson from Category 3, Step 1 to Category 3, Step 2 effective July 16, 2013.
• Approved accepting the letter of resignation from Ted Schulz effective June 4, 2013.
• Approved granting Friday, July 5 as a holiday for city employees.
• Approved a special alcohol permit for Outlaws’ Bar & Grill to serve alcohol in an outdoor fenced-in eating area on the west side of Outlaws’ Bar & Grill from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on June 28 and 29, 2013.
• Approved a special alcohol permit for Outlaws’ Bar & Grill for the Cheyanne Maki and Ryan Thompson wedding from 5:00 p.m. to 12:45 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Building on Sept. 28, 2013.
• Approved Mayor Sanford’s appointment of Lori Nordby to the Lodging Tax Committee to fill Laura Sanford’s expired term and the appointment of Michon Sax to the McKenzie County Library Board to fulfill Caralynn Olson’s unexpired term until Jan. 1, 2015.
• Approved hiring a Public Works Operator to fill the open position.