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NTC seeks permit for new classroom space

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Demand for environmental and construction programs at Northwest Technical College are on the rise, Jim Clark, the interim dean of academics said, but the college is running out of room to house them.

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Since Christmas, the college has been leasing the former Bemidji Honda Motor Sports building located at 808 Paul Bunyan Drive Southeast, for its construction electricity, residential plumbing/HVAC, sustainable environment technologies and wind energy classes.

Despite having already completed some renovations inside the building, the college still needs to have a conditional use permit in order to lease the space and make changes to the building.

The Greater Bemidji Joint Planning Board will meet at 6 p.m. today at Bemidji City Hall to decide whether to grant the college an after-the-fact conditional use permit to allow it to lease the building and make changes to its interior.

According to Mayana Rice, planning administrator for the planning board, the college should have waited to receive a conditional use permit before starting any renovations, but can still apply for an after-the-fact permit.

For not having received a permit first before leasing the space, NTC will have to pay twice the permit cost as a normal conditional use permit, Rice said.

One of the conditions the JPB will likely place on the permit is to have the property's two entrances located closest to the intersection of Paul Bunyan Drive Southeast and Roosevelt Road Southeast closed in order to improve safety.

The property has three drives, two on Paul Bunyan Drive Southeast and one on Roosevelt Road Southeast.

In the planning board agenda, the county engineer expressed concerns over the safety of the two existing entrances and recommended the closure of the two accesses to improve traffic safety at this intersection.

Clark sees the lease arrangement as a good move for the college because it offers students more space to do hands-on training.

"As job markets continue to grow, employers are looking for these skills sets to be able to deliver these technologies," Clark said. "Our need to train people in these areas has grown. We see it as a promising future."

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