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Click here to see a concept sketch of Phase I of the 5Stone project for Berthold,
including commercial space, townhomes and up to 300 houses.
By Caroline Downs
Dave Berry, a partner in 5Stone Development in Scottsdale, AZ, was told by former college friends working in the oil business that North Dakota was the place to be right now.
Berry agreed, and 5Stone Development is now proposing a residential, commercial and industrial development east of Berthold with access to ND Highway 28 and US Highway 2, and up to 2000 homes to be built in the next five years.
Berry and his partner Alex Gregg, also of Arizona, arrived in Minot for the first time last summer after the Mouse River Flood, seeking ways their company could participate in recovery efforts. They traveled around the region and came upon Berthold as a likely location for a project.
“Berthold was undiscovered,” Berry said, “but it was close to Minot.” He noted the proximity to a major airport, health care and shopping options for people associated with the oil boom moving to the area.
A key factor for the project’s success was access to a water supply, which can be provided by the North Prairie Rural Water Association. “If there’s going to be a housing development in western North Dakota, it’s in Berthold or Minot,” said Berry, adding that similar projects in Williston, Stanley and Tioga have all been dealing with water supply issues.
Berry and Gregg, along with civil engineer Vince Vander Top of Wenck Associates, have been talking with individuals, businesses and agencies to lay the groundwork for 5Stone Ranch.
The developers have met with the Berthold City Council and Mayor Alan Lee, township and school officials, and various county, regional and state officials during recent weeks as they’ve made preliminary plans.
Monday night, the public had a chance to hear more of the details as the trio talked with members of the Berthold City Council, the Berthold Planning/Zoning Committee, and representatives the Berthold Township about the next necessary steps.
Phase I to begin in 2012
The first phase would be started later in 2012, east of the city and north of US 2.
Phase I would consist of 244 single family lots at 10,000 or more square feet each, 216 townhomes, and six commercial lots sized between 1.5 and 3.75 acres. About 25 acres of Phase I would be left as open park space.
Gregg explained that 5Stone would be constructing some of the homes, but the company was also in the process of approving other home builders. “We’re looking at a combination of stick-built and modular,” he said.
All the houses would be 2x6 construction, as per 5Stone specifications at this time, sized from two to four bedrooms with two or three baths and priced in the $195,000 to $245,000 range. Two-car garages would be another option for buyers.
“We’re hoping to see, by next year, 900 homes,” he continued.
The development is expected to include RV and trailer storage lots, paved roads, walking trails and detention ponds. Commercial and industrial properties would sited appropriately, with the Berthold community given input about the types of commercial development they would like to occur, such as a grocery store. Office space could also be made available for law enforcement and community emergency services at a nominal rate.
Gregg explained that constructing a number of buildings at one time would give the development a more cohesive appearance. “It will look more like a community that’s been in place for a while,” he said.
Agreements and commitments are in place with North Prairie Rural Water to supply up to 900 homes with water. Discussions about additional supply needs have been held with the State Water Commission.
A wastewater system is still to be determined, with several options under consideration by Vander Top and other engineers. 5Stone is suggesting an expansion of the Berthold city lagoon system to accommodate Phase I of the project.
“The investment from 5Stone is substantial,” Gregg said. “For land acquisition alone and preparation for development, it’s about $20 million.”
According to Berry, 2000 acres are under contract for the project, and the first closing on a portion of that property took place Monday.
Berry directed the audience to the 5Stone website at www.5stonedev.com. “We’ve had 264 inquiries for the homes right now,” he said, adding that anyone is welcome to contact the company with inquiries, questions or concerns.
“We read them all,” he said. “You can send any comments you want. I have a secretary keeping track of them.”
Gregg made it clear 5Stone Development wanted to work in cooperation with the local government entities and residents. “We’ve been looking at this thing as a whole community project,” he said.
Looking for commitment
He and Berry were directly seeking a measure of commitment from the city and township in order for 5Stone to proceed with plans to expand the city’s current lagoon system.
The firm also wanted assurances that the city and township wouldn’t approve other major developments in the immediate area, given 5Stone’s expected investments in water and sewer infrastructure.
Finally, 5Stone wanted indications from the city and townships that all parties would coordinate efforts to prepare applications for oil impact and other available grants to benefit the infrastructure, school, emergency services and transportation elements of the project.
The Berthold City Council will discuss the 5Stone Ranch project and Gregg’s requests further at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, February 6th, beginning at 7:30 pm. The public is welcome to attend all city council meetings.
More details about the January 30th meeting in Berthold regarding the proposed 5Stone Ranch development will be available in next week’s issue of The Kenmare News, including preliminary plans for a wastewater system and other comments, concerns and questions shared during the meeting.