Building a new Erik?Ramstad Middle School on the city's North Hill, far away from the Souris River, makes good sense. Building an oil company warehouse that will store flammable liquids in the same proximity as the proposed middle school makes no sense.
The Minot Planning Commission approved a request from Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations this week to build an office, shop and warehouse on the south side of 45th Street Northwest at Eighth Street. That's near the proposed site of a new Ramstad Middle School, and that makes us uncomfortable to say the least.
Our concern is not a complaint against the company at all. Such companies play a vital role in the booming oil industry in northwest North Dakota. Rather, our concern is the location of the building. We believe Minot fire marshal Ed Hausauer when he says Baker Hughes' plan exceeds typical fire precautions. But we're more concerned by this statement:
"This is about as safe as you can build a facility that holds chemicals," Hausauer told the planning commission.
That's not good enough.
Traffic generated by such a facility would also be a great concern. Trucks hauling chemicals would be sharing the roads with vehicles headed to and from a middle school, including school buses. That's not a good combination. Even with a company going overboard on safety precautions, accidents can and do still happen. Putting this facility near a middle school and a soon-to-be residential area is a risk we're not willing to take, and neither should the city.
We expect members of the Planning Commission to do just that plan for the orderly growth of Minot, and it's a difficult job balancing all concerns. Right now, the area in question isn't developed. But if Ramstad is built in that area, residential growth will certainly follow, and that makes it even more imperative that the Minot City Council reject the commission's support of this warehouse project in the requested location.