MINOT – The Ward County Commission vote on youth placement for overflow of kids was canceled at this week’s County Commissioners’ meeting due to zoning issues.
Due to North Dakota legislation that took effect in August of 2022, youth being charged with crimes were required to be separated from other youth who may be unruly and have run away from home. Law enforcement used to take care of all of them, but the legislation required the “unruly” youth to be under the Human Service Zone’s care which caused an overflow and the HSZ could not immediately find a permanent place for all of them.
Commissioner Shelly Weppler said there were a few times this past January and February where a youth would need a place to stay, so they stayed upstairs in the County Administration building. The County Commissioners voted at their last meeting to approve about $10,000 to fix up the old Morgan Printing building downtown for those children to temporarily stay. On Tuesday the Commissioners were told that the building is zoned for business and commercial purposes.
Brian Vangsness, county facility management director, said inspectors of the building told him it must be zoned as a residential building to house children in it.
“That means that it needs to be sprinklered,” said Vangsness. “I have not gotten a bid on that, but I know that’s five figures in that area. I had heard between 30 and 50 thousand dollars.”
Planning and Zoning Administrator Doug Diedrichsen said the Morgan building is zoned as M1 industrial and the County Administration building is zoned as central business district which allows for group boarding homes.
“If we wanted to do any kind of group home in the Morgan building, we would have to request a zone change from the city,” said Diedrichsen.
Chairman John Fjeldahl said the director of the HSZ is looking into other ideas. The Commissioners voted unanimously to cancel the $10,000 that would have been used to improve the Morgan building.