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City plans for future growth

Posted 7/25/12 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Watford City area residents will get their first chance to comment on proposed plans to address the city’s planned growth as well as transportation needs during a public input meeting that will be held Tuesday, July 31 at the Watford City Civic Center. The public input meeting on the Watford City Land Use and Transportation plans will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will use an open house format with a formal presentation at 6 p.m.
“The City has completed a number of planning efforts over the past five years and has benefitted immensely from the engagement and participation of our citizens,” states Brent Sanford, Watford City mayor. “We hope to receive that same level of input during this planning process as well.”
Land use plans have become a hot topic in oil country as increased population has resulted in some land use conflicts in communities and counties in the Bakken region. The updated Land Use Plan will propose future Watford City city limit expansions and designate land use types, such as residential, commercial and industrial, within the Watford City city limits.
According to Grant Slick with AE2S, large scale maps will show the proposed updated Land Use Plan as well as the proposed Transportation Plan.
“The public input meeting will give people a good understanding of what is happening in their backyard and enable them to be a part of the land use update process,” states Slick.
The city is also looking to develop a transportation plan which will deal with the increased population and oil production that has resulted in the volume of traffic escalating to unprecedented numbers over the past few years in the Watford City area.
“Longtime citizens, as well as relative newcomers, have commented on safety issues and other concerns through the City’s visioning process conducted earlier this year,” states Slick. “A key result of those visioning sessions was the initiation of a Transportation Plan.”
The future Transportation Plan, according to Slick, will focus on improvements that address pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular issues, including safety, traffic congestion, and connectivity to locations in and around Watford City.
“At the input meeting, the team will discuss the current, short, and long range transportation system needs of the community through a series of maps and open forum,” states Bob Shannon, traffic engineer with Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson (KLJ). “The Transportation Plan is at a point where citizen input is critical in order to develop a plan that meets the citizen’s needs.”
The development of these two plans, according to Sanford, is critical to manage Watford City’s future growth.
“Watford City has always been a proactive community,” states Sanford. “Our proactive approach to planning has prepared us for the last five years, positioned us for critical funding thus far, and will ensure we are prepared for what lies ahead.”
The projects, identified at the public input meeting on July 31 and developed in the Transportation Plan, are proposed to be included in the near term capital improvements plan for implementation within the next two to three years.  
During the public input meeting, citizens will have an opportunity to ask questions and provide input on the proposed Updated Land Use Plan and ongoing Transportation Plan.  These plans will be important tools aiding the City of Watford City’s organized growth.
Representatives from the City of Watford City, AE2S, and KLJ will be available to answer questions.
Persons unable to attend the meeting, but who wish to make comments may do so by e-mailing comments to Curt Moen, Watford City planner, at Cumoen@nd.gov with “Public Input Meeting” as the e-mail subject heading. Comments are due by Aug. 14.