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The City of Minot has prepared a substantial amendment which it will submit to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development after the 30-day public comment closes as it seeks to spend up to $2.5 million to acquire property needed for a downtown gathering space.
As part of $74.3 million awarded to Minot in 2016 through the National Disaster Resilience Program, a total of $6 million was set aside to fund the creation of a downtown gathering place. Because acquiring property wasn’t specifically identified in Minot’s original approved NDR application and Action Plan, HUD is requiring the City to amend its request to specifically identify acquisition for the Gathering Place as a new activity pursuant to HUD rules and identify the portion of the $6 million which will be used for acquisition. The city has identified $2.5 million for property acquisition.
“In the approved Action Plan, the City promised that it would provide the land on which the Gathering Place is to be built. Therefore, the City did not include acquisition of property as an activity for the Gathering Place,” said John Zakian, Minot’s program manager. “Since the city did not include acquisition for the Gathering Place, then it also did not include whether acquisition would be voluntary or involuntary (through eminent domain), and did not budget within the $6 million any funds for acquisition costs. HUD rules stipulate that acquisition is a mandatory activity and if acquisition is necessary that it has to be defined in advance whether it will be voluntary or involuntary. If acquisition is going to be used, then HUD also requires that the budget be divided between construction and acquisition.”
The Minot City Council approved the plan at its May 1 special meeting. Until HUD acts on the request, the City can’t negotiate with property owners or use funds to further develop plans for the gathering space. HUD’s response could take considerable time but, if the city’s proposed amendment is viewed as straightforward and uncomplicated it could be approved within 45 days of official submission.
“With a substantial amendment, the City, as the grantee, must spell out what is changing and show in writing how the changes affect the approved Action Plan, and post it for public review and comment,” Zakian said. “After that period, HUD will review the substantial amendment and either approve or not approve.”
The substantial amendment is available for public comment at http://cdbg.minotnd.org/index.php/action-plan/proposed-amendments.
Zakian said HUD requires that the public have an opportunity to comment on any significant change in an approved action plan. He also said HUD for NDR grants has the authority to re-score the City’s revised action plan following the public comment period. If the action plan’s score were to be lowered because of the changes, it’s possible HUD could take a portion of the grant funds back but Zakian is confident this specific substantial amendment will not be rescored because the changes are only more clearly defining a project included in the original approved Action Plan and is not proposing a different project which would trigger rescoring.