A case involving the neighbors of a Minot bank expansion project has been heard by the North Dakota Supreme Court, where the neighbors argued that the city gave “special treatment” to the bank during the project. The litigation at the core of the controversyinvolved the number of parking spaces available for the project.
Most zoning and planning regulations require that for any development project, there are an adequate number of parking spaces created for potential users, residents and customers of the completed project.
If it is building a retail store on the outskirts of a town, these issues rarely arise, but when the development takes place in a more intensely developed town or city like Minot, the addition of a large residential or office project can become more difficult, as the required number of parking spots may not be easily available.
Developers often seek variances from zoning boards to excuse them from meeting the default requirement for the zoning district. This may force the developer to assemble a detailed explanation of how the project will not place an undue burden on other local businesses or residents if the board grants the variance.
Existing landowners may be concerned that a new, large project could impair the value and usability of their property if additional traffic creates congestion or if their customers or residents are “crowded out” by the influx of additional vehicles and traffic.
In addition to the alleged special treatment, this case alleges that Minot changed the name of the board responsible for making the decisions in an effort to prevent local residents from challenging the variance in the cities permitting process. The city claims the neighbors failed to properly appeal the original decision and now are foreclosed from making this challenge.