September 25, 2014

New Town working through growing pains


By Jerry W. Kram

The New Town City Council is looking forward to the challenges it will face after the expected annexation of hundreds of acres between the current city limits and the North Dakota Highway 23 Bypass next month.

The New Town School District was near the top of the agenda because it is attempting to build bus barns and employee housing on a ten acre tract a block north of Dakota Drive. The district would like to start work on getting water and sewer service to its proposed development before winter sets in. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that the area has not been annexed yet and the construction on North Dakota Highway 1804 is preventing easy access for utilities to the east.

Vehicle access to the site is currently a narrow gravel road off of Highway 1804. City Engineer Joe Dubel said he anticipates the city will want to make that road the primary street access to proposed developments on the west side of the highway. That decision will create more questions for the city and school district. One challenge is that the road currently sits on a 40 foot wide easement. Dubel said the standard easement for city streets is 66 feet and that the city should consider purchasing an 80 foot easement.

The main question for the city is who will pay for creating that street. As it plans it future growth, New Town will have to figure out where the millions of dollars for new streets, water mains and sewers will come from. Some cities pay for new developments by issuing bonds that are paid off using special assessments. Others have the developers shoulder most of the costs for access to their property. Other communities use a combination of the two.

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