City P&Z mulls property use permits
Conditional use permits for two local property owners topped the agenda for the Rugby Planning and Zoning commission’s regular monthly meeting held Monday evening at city hall.
The meeting began with two new members, Al Jundt and Dave Anderson, taking oaths of office for their seats on the commission.
Rugby City Attorney William Hartl attended the first half of the meeting by phone and joined the meeting in person later.
The commission heard first from Rugby property owner David Thompson, who sought a conditional use permit for a house at 221 Fifth St. SE.
Thompson told the commission he intended to use the residential property for “housing traveling nursing staff.” A portion of the building, which has a separate entrance, has an egress window in the basement.
Thompson said he met with Rugby Mayor Sue Steinke to discuss possibly designating the property R2, however, he said. “I do not want to have a rental apartment building. About the only thing I would change is putting in a kitchenette area in the basement. Before I would do that, I want to make sure I follow the zoning.”
Thompson and Steinke, who serves as planning and zoning commission secretary, told the board an R1 designation was possible as that zoning permits use for two family dwellings.
The board voted unanimously to schedule a hearing for Thompson’s conditional use permit at its next regular planning and zoning meeting set for March 9.
The board also voted unanimously to hold a hearing for a conditional use permit for Craig Wollenburg, owner of the former Windshield Doctor building on South Main Avenue. Wollenburg appeared before the board seeking zoning guidance for a hemp processing facility he hopes to operate in the building.
The board pored through city ordinances and North Dakota Century Code excerpts to decide whether the facility would fit the definition of commercial or light industrial use.
Citing a city ordinance, Wollenburg read to the group, “It says ‘light manufacturing industries consisting of the processing and treatments of goods and foodstuffs’ – I think I would fall under goods – except alcoholic beverages, fish, meat products, vinegar and yeast.’ I kind of wonder what ‘vinegar and yeast’ came from. That seemed a little funny, but nevertheless.”
Wollenburg described his processing facility to the commission.
“What we are proposing to do in that building is the extraction of oil from the hemp biomass. It’s a clean process. The system that is used is a closed system. We take carbon dioxide and chill it down to where it’s below freezing and becomes a liquid. At that point the liquid is passed through a processor,” Wollenburg explained.
“(The processor) looks kind of like a dry cleaning machine,” he added. “Then we take biomass and put it in bags that resemble oversized pillowcases. Those are placed in, and the liquid CO2 is injected into the tumbler and cylinder and it’s mixed with the biomass and it wets it down and then after a certain amount of time, the CO2 is reheated and it comes back to room temperature and becomes a gas and what is left behind is the oil that’s been extracted from the biomass.”
Wollenburg continued, “The CO2 goes right back through inside the system and the oil goes into another canister, and that’s where you just basically turn on a spigot and put it into a jar. And that’s our product that we’re producing.”
Commission chair Jackie Albrecht and Steinke brought up concerns about the wide range of businesses covered by the “light industrial” designations.
Albrecht read from a list of businesses with the designation, which ranged from airports and railroads to car repair facilities to grain elevators.
“That’s a pretty broad spectrum,” Albrecht said.
“Very much so,” Steinke agreed. “And I think some of these places, you should have a minimum lot requirement because you wouldn’t want animals near the Dairy Queen.”
“You’ve got some pretty dirty stuff (on the list) grain elevators,” added Anderson.
After reviewing restrictions and permitted items with the designation, Steinke said, “I think these ordinances could use a little work.”
Hartl told the commission, “These ordinances perhaps could be tweaked but I don’t want to get in the habit of tweaking them for individual people or entities. Really, the only thing to look at for Light Industrial in the future, when Mr. Wollenburg doesn’t own the building, is what could go in the future.”
After more discussion on the zoning designation, Hartl added, “I will go on record saying in my understanding, Mr. Wollenburg is spelling out what they’re planning on doing. If this were an airport, railroad, grain elevator, feed mill, (electricity) substation, that kind of thing, I’d have a different feeling on this as opposed to what Mr. Wollenburg says they’re going to use this for.”
The commission also discussed a public hearing mentioned in January’s regular planning and zoning meeting. The hearing for a petition to close a section of Third Avenue Southwest near Ely Elementary School had been discussed at the January meeting with the possibility of addressing the issue at Monday’s meeting.
Steinke and Hartl told the commission that although a motion was made to schedule a hearing, Hartl and City Auditor Jennifer Stewart found that the petition was not in order and another property owner needed to sign documents due to modifications in the alley near their property.
“They had to go back, correct the petition, and then it’s going to be published. The city attorney ruled that it could go to the council straightaway then without having a planning and zoning hearing,” Steinke said.
The public hearing for the closure of Third Avenue Southwest near Ely Elementary will be held March 16.
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