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Bemidji Area JPB approves two rezoning requests

BEMIDJI—The Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board approved two requests for rezoning on Wednesday, and extended the discussion on a proposed construction project in town.

The latter request came from GM Development, which is seeking a variance from an ordinance to use crushed concrete gravel in lieu of bituminous pavement or concrete as a surface. The request is part of a proposal for building a trucking terminal deck operation for Magnum Trucking near the intersection of Carr Lake Road and Cram Avenue SE in the city's industrial park.

At its Aug. 24 meeting, the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Commission denied the variance, based on a staff recommendation. According to JPB documents, the denial was recommended because the ordinance does not allow gravel or crushed concrete.

"To us, we've been trying to be consistent as staff. If it's not paved as concrete or bituminous, it's pretty hard to have a durable surface. I don't believe gravel is equally durable," Planning Director Casey Mai said. "With gravel, there's also factors of storm water management and dust control for air quality."

Items generally are presented to the commission first and then go to the full Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board for final resolution.

On Wednesday, Mai said the board decided to, in essence, deny the commission's denial and extend the 60-day rule on the request. Mai said this means the company will have to attend the next board meeting for more discussion.

"At that time, there will be two resolutions, one for approval and the other for denial. Our staff has been directed to do more research on crushed concrete and get more information on it for the next meeting, too," Mai said.

The other two subjects on Wednesday's agenda were related to rezoning. The first came in the form of a request from 4B Properties, which requested to rezone their property at 1612 Balsam Road NW from an R1 Rural Zoning District to a B1 Low Density Commercial. The request was made for the use of a mini-storage warehouse facility.

The second request came from Lutheran Campus Ministry, located at 1221 Birchmont Drive NE, which moved to rezone the property from the R4 Moderate Density Residential Zoning District to a University Zoning District. According to documents, the ministry felt that the mix of uses allowed in the University Zone will be better suited for its future plans.

Mai said the ministry is hoping to expand the structure and may need a variance or a conditional use permit, depending on what the designs are. Mai also said 4B Properties will require coming before the JPB, too, for a conditional use permit to have the storage facilities.

Matthew Liedke

Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.

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